Pro's from the Palace (#197) - Who's up next for a championship reign?

Reported by Mike Siciliano of
On Thursday, August 23, 2007 at 2:19 PM EST

I read Badseed's column the other day, and I was kind of thinking the same thing. Maybe I have lost the fire, maybe the world is just sapping the enjoyment out of this business of forecasting and talking about pro wrestling. Then I remembered, it's not about the suits that we all cannot stand, it's about the talents that bust their collective asses in the ring, and wow us with moves we could only dream of making. With that in mind, instead of spending the next however many words bashing the product, let's see if I can take the forecasting abilities of Nostradamus, and predict who is next in line for title reigns following the next set of PPVs and the like. I'll try and hit as many titles as I can.

First, we'll talk WWE Raw.

The Women's Championship
WWE has a tendency to roll with new talent and let them try their hands at the title pretty quick out of the box. Although this person is not new, having a brief cup of coffee before getting hurt back in the day, she definitely has the talent to make it work as a champion, and return the women's division to more wrestling than fashion. No disrespect to Candice Michelle, she's improved significantly since taking the title from Melina, but I would predict Beth Phoenix is next on the list for the women's champion, and that will be a tough road to hold. No Victoria, yes. But, Phoenix is almost on par toughness wise.

The Intercontinental Championship
With Umaga turning face, this title is in flux. I am really intrigued by the story behind Umaga vs. Kennedy vs. Carlito at Summerslam, and I hope and pray Vinnie Mac's dumb kid angle doesn't interfere with this match. I could see both Kennedy and Carlito kind of almost teaming up to fight Umaga and beat him down to eventually allow one of them to take the IC title. I think it's an absolute lock for Kennedy to be champion sooner rather than later, and the IC title would definitely be the right stepping stone, since he lost his chance at the world title back due to injury after Wrestlemania. So, let's pick Ken Kennedy as the next one in line to take this piece of gold, and run with it.

The World Tag Team Championship
I promised not to bitch about creative, but does this title fluctuate in and out of importance or what? Matt & Jeff held it, and it was featured everywhere, Cade & Murdoch now have it, and you can barely get them on Heat. It's really sad. Who's next? Obvious here. Paul London & Brian Kendrick. Their successful run on Smackdown as WWE tag team champs probably earned them the right to go to Raw to continue honing their craft, and once they get out of the jobber state of being the new kids on the block, I would not be surprised to see them jump in to contention, and eventually wrestle the titles away from the hard hitters. Although, it is definitely noteworthy that Londrick do not have an easy time with hard hitting ground and pounders, i.e. Regal & Taylor and Deuce & Domino.

The WWE Championship
I would honestly be content to say that Triple H will get the belt from Cena when he is ready to compete for it. The wildcard is sunday night. If Orton wins, then there is no doubt in mind that HHH is running this company his way, that's the bottom line, and there's nothing else that can disprove it. Orton's behavior outside the ring does not warrant him a title reign, I don't care what anyone says. Has this feud worked? Yes, it has. Has this feud built up the WWE title match for Summerslam? Indeed. I would suspect, win or lose, that Cena and Orton will continue knocking heads leading in to Unforgiven. But, is Orton ready to hold Raw on his shoulders? No way. He's not mature enough, from where I sit. So, I am going to be picking Triple H as the man to wrest the belt from John Cena. He's inches away from a year as champion. Let it happen. Bottom line, if he survived Lashley at the Bash, which I truly thought he was going to lose there, I think he's going to be H's sacrifical lamb when he returns to the throne.

Let's move on to WWE Smackdown...

The Cruiserweight Championship
No London and Kendrick on Smackdown. Helms is months away. Mysterio is returning from an injury and is more likely to chase the World title than this belt. I'm quickly becoming not surprised that they put this belt on Hornswoggle. While I love Jamie Noble as a competitor, I feel bad for him being subjected to the ridicule he's been forced to go through with this feud with the champ. The rumour of this title going dark for some time seems to be the logical next step, because of two reasons. 1. There's not many people left to challenge for it, outside of Funaki, Shannon Moore, Jimmy Yang, and Chavo.
2. If Yang didn't beat Chavo for the belt, and Noble hasn't beaten Hornswoggle yet, I don't think it's going to happen.
So, let's take this a weird direction. I suspect this title will go dark for some time until the emergence of some new talent, perhaps from OVW or FCW, but one man I think will be the new face of the cruiserweight division. His name?

Matt Sydal

He's got all the tools to do it, he's been champion in ROH, he's been all over the world, so he's got big match experience in Japan, TNA, and WSX, and frankly, his moves, even in watered down WWE, will probably stun the fans out of slumber. Yeah, it's a long shot, but its a fun one to think about, isn't it?

The United States Championship
First off, I give kudos to MVP for staying on television, even with ANY heart condition. I have a pacemaker at 35 years of age, and it scares me to this day, so if MVP has the guts to keep going with his feud with Matt Hardy, after the scare he went through, that's double tough. No questions about it. Now, for the obvious. Hardy will end up winning the US title, but there's no way in hell that they're going to drop MVP vs. Hardy for the forseeable future. It's been done absolutely to perfection. I may have not enjoyed Michael Cole's blatant love affair with Matt Hardy on the broadcasts of Smackdown, but you can't take anything away from what you've seen, wrestling, storyline, the works. I don't think this title will do anything else but stay with the two men currently fighting for it. Since it's a foregone conclusion Hardy will win the US title at the next opportunity (Im not sure if there's a US title match at Summerslam, I think there is, but I don't know for certain), I will say MVP will be a two time champion some time down the line.

The World Heavyweight Championship
Two things seem to happen with this title. Batista challenges for it, and the champion gets hurt. Undertaker fought Batista in a trilogy of epic matches, gets hurt. Edge fights Batista in a series of matches, Edge gets hurt by Kane. Now Khali has it, and he's already fought Batista once in the triple threat at the Bash, and he has him one on one at Summerslam. Khali is greener than green, but Batista's not a technical wiz himself. The chances of the pattern continuing here are astronomically high. The question is, is Khali a transitional champion? If Batista wins, the answer is yes, and Khali's stock as a monster is shot to hell. It's already tarnished after his WWE title program with Cena, and then going to Smackdown and winning the world title as easily as he did. If Khali wins at Summerslam, then who knows who takes the belt. I'd even go so far as to say the Undertaker gets one more roll at the top of the mountain before stepping aside, once he removes Mark Henry from my television set. I suspect Taker will go for the belt quickly during his feuds with Henry and eventually Khali, and I suspect Edge will also go for the belt quickly once he returns, but in the meantime, Khali has to win sunday, or his reign is meaningless.

HOLD THE FORT PEOPLE. I forgot something. Updated 8/24 at 2:10am.

Thanks to my new friend Carlos, who I believe is in the military stationed in a place that neither you nor I would dream of wanting to be stationed, I was informed I forgot the ECW title. And he's right. Why did I forget it? Because I believe it's a virtual foregone conclusion that CM Punk will have it be 3rd times the charm and win the ECW title from John Morrison on sunday night. One way or another, the winner of the Punk/Morrison feud will go against either Striker or Big Daddy V. Probably V, as the exposure to a title will prepare him for the eventual jump to Smackdown and a feud with the hall of fame returning Dead Man soon after Mark Henry is retired.

One way or another, Punk wins the title sunday, and V/Striker is next. To win? No. But for a shot, definitely. I couldn't tell you who'd be next in line for a reign as ECW title holder, because most of them aren't ready. Punk is, barely, but he is. Let's see how things progress and maybe then I can forecast it better.

Thanks Carlos! Back to the grind, people! :)

Time to move on to Total Non Stop Angle Wrestling. And yes, I wrote that purposely.

The TNA X Division Championship
One of two things is going to happen. Since Angle didn't surrender the belt, or hand it to someone of his flunkies like Shelley or something like that, we're either going to get a quick title change, or the division is going buh bye. Which is silly, because it's TNA's staple to market themselves as the alternative to WWE. But think about this for a minute. Joe is embroiled in muck and mire trying to get to Angle and the TNA title, AJ is Cage's absolute lackey, Daniels is out in la la land somewhere with his eyes on Sting, from what his face paint looks like, and the only ones left with significant marquis value, now that Lynn left the company, is Lethal, Dutt, and Sabin. I'd personally love to see Homicide run with the X title, but the chances of that happening are slim.

Is Lethal going to beat Angle at No Surrender? Doubtful. I also think this title will eventually be phased out, which is absolutely ludicrous, but I don't see how they're going to keep it alive with the stars of the division all over the place in meaningless angles, and the title around a non X Division wrestler. It just doesn't look good. I'm going to go out on a limb and say Homicide finds a way to win it, but truth be told, the more likely candidate is the X division goes by the wasteside.

The TNA World Tag Team Championships
I thought that Angle would have handed the titles back to 3D. 3D then becomes full fledge heels aligned with Angle, and the tag division goes back to semi abnormal, and the Steiners continue their push for the belts. With Angle keeping the belt, and the upcoming defense against PACMAN JONES, man does that make me want to vomit, I don't have the slightest clue what's going to happen. I'd like to say the Steiner Brothers are the most likeliest candidates to be tag team champions sooner rather than later, but this is TNA I'm talking about, and honestly, I don't have a clue what's going to happen next. I wouldn't be surprised to see Jones and Killings walk out of No Surrender with the tag belts. Hopefully, Jones doesn't have cuffs on when he leaves Orlando that day, but we're not going to touch that idea, now are we?

The TNA World Heavyweight Championship
Kurt Angle vs. Abyss. I like it. Personally. If Angle wasn't so involved with two other titles, it'd be a damn fun match to try and predict. Can Abyss win it? Sure. No question. His new babyface status makes it even more potentially possible for a title change. But with Angle so powerful among TNA, who's going to unseat him? I don't think Joe will. I think Joe is en route out of TNA and back to ROH, but that's a topic for another day. I think, when push comes to shove, Angle will drop all the titles except this one, and eventually drop this one to .....

Jeff Jarrett

Come on, think about it. Who else has the stroke and power in the company to be able to get through the egotistical antics that Angle has been portraying? Jarrett. Jarrett finds a way to get through the kinks in Angle's armor, and eventually wrestles the TNA title away from the Olympic champion. When? That, my friends, is the real question. God only knows.

Let's move forward to ROH. I think they deserve to be in this piece.

But before I do, I didn't mention Angle's IWGP title. And why didn't I? Because it's bogus, it's ridiculous, and besides its being a good looking piece of jewelry around Angle's shoulder, it has no meaning. So, let's not go down that road, ok? Until Angle goes to Japan and beats current IWGP title holder Yuji Nagata, the 3rd IWGP belt is just that, the third. It's not the belt, and I don't care for it being promoted by TNA. But, that's just one man's opinion.

On to ROH....

The ROH World Tag Team Championships
The Briscoes are terrific champions. They can run the gamut and then some, for months on end. However, they've run in to a buzzsaw in Mr. Wrestling Kevin Steen, and the Generic Luchador, El Generico. Steen and Generico are the perfect tag team. Speed and power, agility and size. And they've shown it too. This weekend they have two matches with the Briscoes for the tag straps. A cage match, and a 2 out of 3 falls match. I think when the smoke clears, the tag straps will be around the masked luchadore and his partner. Which means, who gets a shot next?

And that's where things get dicey. Outside of these two teams, there's really not much out there. Yeah, you have the NRC and Resilience wars, and they could definitely give the champs some trouble, but they spend most of their waking moments beating each other up, I doubt they'd have the attention span to pull off a significant title reign. What about a team from either Dragon Gate or NOAH? DG is holding a tag team tournament right now. One of the co leading teams is Cyber Kong and Shingo Takagi. Shingo has ROH experience, and is a former ROH World tag team champion. It's obvious the Japanese influence has worked on the ROH brand, and the championships, see the world champion. What about going down that road again for the tag team titles, if they're not going to give the Briscoes another run, which I don't think will happen.

I suspect that the Japanese will take control of the tag team division, and I think the creative way to do it is to have the Summer Adventure Tag league winners travel to the US and face the ROH tag champs, whomever they may be. I think that'll be the next option for the ROH tag titles. It's a long shot, again, but it's needed, as ROH continues to lose talent to other companies and other circumstances.

The ROH World Championship
If Danielson doesn't win it this weekend, who knows. Danielson is the most likeliest candidate to run with the title again. Everyone expects it, and I think it's going to be the shock of a lifetime if Morishima manages to squeak past Danielson. Don't get me wrong, Morishima's a monster, plain and simple, and I've loved watching him destroy people left and right. However, they're playing up that his schedule, which is monstrous to say the least, is likely beginning to take its toll on the NOAH stalwart. Also, NOAH is involved in a tournament to crown the next contender for the GHC title, and Big Mo is right in the middle there. Will NOAH repay Morishima for the notoriety he is giving them world wide by getting him a good showing or the title shot itself? It's all intriguing. With Misawa coming to ROH as well come November, it's a distinct possibility that he may drop the GHC title to focus on activities in the US, and dropping it to a former ROH World Champion makes it sound just a little bit nicer, don't you think?

It comes down to, who's next? I thought Nigel was next, but after the amount of times he's had and failed, I doubt it. Roderick also has had the numerous chances, and not gone through to the next level, albeit still holding the FIP title. The most likeliest candidate is Danielson, but the one potential wildcard there is the NWA title. If Danielson is truly destined to win the NWA title in Puerto Rico come next month, is he prepared to handle the strain of two promotions on his back? Two promotions the size of the National Wrestling Alliance and Ring of Honor? My thoughts, no. I truly believe Danielson will be the NWA World Champ, because although Albright has been a beast since hitting the indies, its just a little more prestigious with Danielson's name on the NWA championship at this particular point and time.

SO, back to the lecture, who's next for the ROH title? Here's a swerve. Brent Albright. He's already getting chance #2 in the elimination match this weekend against Claudio and Big Mo. What's the chances of Albright doing well, and earning another singles opportunity? He's shown all the talent he can go, and being this 'hired gun' so to speak within ROH, he'd be the perfect assassin to destroy the inpenetrable fortress that is Takeshi Morishima. So, here's another swerve. The Shooter is the next ROH champ. At least, I think it will happen.

Final thoughts
I won't go in to the NWA because it's too damn massive, but the facts are obvious, Dragonis the uncrowned NWA World Champion, and if he loses in Puerto Rico, it'll be a damn upset of monumental proportions. All the signs point to Danielson walking off the island with the 10 pounds of gold, and I am really intrigued with how the brass of Ring of Honor is going to handle that with quite possibly their flagship holding the title that could be even more prestigious than the ROH title.

Couple of closing thoughts, really quick.

I am thrilled Matt Sydal is going to WWE. He is supremely talented, and could reinvigorate a dying division on Smackdown.

Good work for D'Lo Brown getting another shot at the big time. I hope it pulls through for him, and Rosey.

The paternity suit angle is incredibly lame, but it's at least less offensive than the fake death thing. And, with what I read recently about how it's going to play out, I'm not going to care, because face or heel, if it plays out the way it's laid out on paper, I want to see the match that's the end result.

I also read spoilers about the World Heavyweight title, and what is likely going to happen with that title in the coming months leading to Wrestlemania 24. If it plays out the way I read it, it's a travesty. Not for the fact of how it plays out, but because of the fact of how badly it will devalue a title that has already gone to pot. And this is tough for me to say without spoilng anything, but it's really pathetic how they made this title the second class title already, and it's likely to get worse.

TNA says they released Slammiversary 2007 on DVD in the stores. Can someone tell me where? Because I can't find it worth a damn. I tell you, as I stand here typing, TNA loses steam with me minute by minute. I only wanted this DVD for the King of the Mountain match, (yes, I'm a fool, I like gimmick matches), but with the amount of trouble I have every time I try to find a new TNA DVD, it just wretches me away from the product just that much more.

I hope Jeff Hardy can stay in WWE, and stay a force on Raw. I hope his head doesn't get in the way of him again, because it would truly be a miscarriage of justice for Hardy to be punished and Orton not to be, but please take in to consideration that I am saying that with a lot of holes in the story. If I knew more, I probably would recind what I just said, but based on what I know, I stand by it. (Wow, that was confusing).

I invite anyone to email me with their thoughts on who's next for title runs, title shots, or any type of forecasting they want to try for WWE, TNA, ROH, NWA, or the indies. I'll try and reply with an informative retort, and maybe, if the response works out well, I'll set it up for an upcoming column. I hope this was a nice change of pace from the venom and anger that has been laced throughout my recent work. With all that's happened with wrestling and my own personal endeavours, I needed to get back to basics to get the fire burning again. Hopefully, it worked.

Take care everyone.

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