Reality from Ringside #1
‘No Way Out? of a Bland Pay-per-view
By: Doug Lackey of

It is amazing what happens in the world of wrestling within the span of one year. Performers come and go as fast as you wish your relatives would during the holidays. Ironically, the structures and story lines stay to their tried and true formats that you?ve become accustomed to.

Just take a look at last year’s card! Last February we saw:

Ric Flair defeated Mr. Kennedy
– Flair stays active to continue his farewell tour through the South before retiring at Wrestlemania 24.

ECW Title Match ? Chavo Guerrero (ch) defeated CM Punk
– Poor Chavo. Now he’s reduced to second banana to the ever-popular among the fans, Vickie.

World Heavyweight Title Match ? Edge (ch) defeated Rey Mysterio
– Nothing has changed here. Edge still has a title and Rey is still playing the role of ?David?.

WWE Title Match ? John Cena defeated Randy Orton (ch) via DQ
– There’s nothing negative to say about this. This should continue to be the bread-and-butter rivalry the WWE holds onto for years to come.

#1 Contender’s Match for World Heavyweight Title ? Elimination Chamber
The Undertaker defeated Batista, MVP (US ch), The Great Khali, Big Daddy V, and Finlay
– The Undertaker could potentially be on his farewell tour, Batista is injured, MVP has assumed a very likeable, loveable loser role, Khali is still the train wreck we love to watch, Finlay will be competing for a title (long overdue), and Big Roly-Poly V still can?t find a decent shirt to wear for job interviews.

#1 Contender’s Match for WWE Title ? Elimination Chamber
Triple H defeated Jeff Hardy (IC ch), JBL, Umaga, Chris Jericho, and Shawn Michaels
– Triple H is still Triple H, Jeff Hardy is one strike away from making history, JBL is starting to slowly gallop into the sunset, Umaga is returning from a knee injury, Jericho has become very ?Hart-esque,? and HBK is looking at Undertaker arguing about who should be allowed to retire at Wrestlemania first.

With the 11th installment of WWE’s pay-per-view ?No Way Out? emanating from Seattle February 15th, it will be the second time the fairly-young event will spotlight the Elimination Chamber. There will be two title matches inside the gargantuan structure that costs the WWE nearly $500,000 to transport and assemble. This is more the reason why you only see matches like this and ?Hell in a Cell? once a year with how the economy is in these difficult times.

What’s disappointing though is with how the card has been laid out, it seems to be another prototypical WWE pay-per-view with very little change or excitement to occur before the silver anniversary of Wrestlemania. For now, let’s run down the card for the upcoming pay-per-view event:

John Bradshaw Layfield vs. Shawn Michaels
If Michaels wins: He is no longer JBL’s ?employee.?
IF JBL wins: He will own the name and likeness of ?Shawn Michaels? and ?HBK.?

No Hold Barred ? Shane McMahon vs. Randy Orton

ECW Title Match ? Finlay vs. Jack Swagger (ch)

World Heavyweight Title Match ? Elimination Chamber
Chris Jericho vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Kane vs. Mike Knox vs. John Cena (ch)

WWE Title Match ? Elimination Chamber
The Undertaker vs. Triple-H vs. The Big Show vs. Vladimir Kozlov vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Edge (ch)

The JBL/HBK saga is one that kind of makes me feel uneasy. Not because of the content, but because it is playing into the stereotypes that many of my friends believe about professional wrestling? That its just a male soap opera. All talk, little action. I hope this ends soon and we can all begin to ponder when these two fine performers will have their last hurrah.

Any match involving Randy Orton seems to become one to keep in the archives of late. I have felt this way about him ever since his ?concussion match? at the 2005 Royal Rumble. Orton’s camera and ring presence just make any contest look good. The ECW Title match should prove to be intriguing. Jack Swagger is slowly building up those mic skills but I hope its an even burn, and doesn?t cause his skills inside the ring to regress, as sometimes can be the case with younger workers in the developmental stages of their careers.

In the previous year’s ?No Way Out,? the Elimination Chamber matches were to determine the number one contenders for Raw and Smackdown’s respective world titles. What struck me about that format then was that it rendered their previous pay-per-view and one of their ?big four?, The ?Royal Rumble,? irrelevant. But with the contest between Shane McMahon and ?Rumble? winner Randy Orton to further along a very engrossing storyline, the Chamber matches have become six of one, half a dozen of the other.

On one hand, you have a very bland and presumptive title match on the Raw side. Does anyone honestly think that John Cena will not be champion going into Wrestlemania and defending it against quite possibly the greatest heel of professional wrestling in the past ten years? What good is going to come out of this Raw Chamber match? Mysterio and Knox will continue to have their fantastic little guy-sociopath relationship. Kofi and Kane will look at that get-together, feel jealous, and have their own little pow-wow. Unfortunately, poor little Chris Jericho will be doing nothing but maintaining the look on his face like he just stepped in dog poop and fitting the role of the final participant to be eliminated by Cena. The predictability of this match is sickening, unlike the match occurring on the other side of the coin.

Can anyone honestly predict with 100% certainty what the WWE Title match will be at Wrestlemania? Will it be a repeat of WM24 with Undertaker overthrowing Edge? Will it be another Survivor Series fireworks display with Jeff Hardy defeating Edge or Triple H? Will the marks get their wish and see the return of Christian to devastate Jeff’s hopes again of regaining the title from any one of the other five Chamber contestants? The questions are infinite, the answer is unattainable, thus making the Smackdown Elimination Chamber match is the only reason you should purchase this event.

With all of this said, maybe it’s time we take some of that grand perspective from last year’s event and throw that into what will potentially be going down:

Shawn Michaels defeats John Bradshaw Layfield
WWE creative realizes that only Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels should try long-winded rivalries with twisting story lines with each other and not branch off.
Michaels severely begins to contemplate his farewell tour? please let it end in Montreal!

JBL will try to do the same, unfortunately his will not be as glorious. What I would give to see Joey Styles pin him in a career-ending match.

Randy Orton defeats Shane McMahon in a 15-minute Singapore cane swing-fest WWE creative still argues with its conscience on whether they want to be PG or R. How is this solved? With as little blood as possible? gone are the days of the Mick Foley-like gore extravaganzas.

Orton goes into Wrestlemania maintaining his ?greatest heel of all-time? moniker. ?Cena-Orton #217? should make a good main event.

After his match, Shane realizes it is much safer physically to be a father than it is trying to be like his father.

Jack Swagger defeats Finlay retaining his ECW Title
It has been proven right in government studies and laboratory testing? titles never change hands before Wrestlemania!

How does Finlay want to be remembered in his final active years? As the tough Irish bastard or as the guy who liked to dance with a midget at the end of every match?
Swagger has a lot of upside going for him. I only hope in his immediate future that he stays away from talking on the microphone. I would much rather see him be the cocky kid with wrestling skills… in the ring? (and all the purists go ?yay!?)

John Cena wins the Raw Elimination Chamber retaining his World Heavyweight Title

WWE creative admits that their imagination can only be used in one of two Chamber matches.

Will Kane still be main event material 5 years from now?

Will it take another 2 years for Mike Knox to become relevant again or will he need to grow another beard?

Will Kofi turn into another Carlito, complaining of not getting enough TV time 3 years from now?

Will Rey still find joy in his ?David? role although he is considered by many to be a veteran?

The Undertaker wins the Smackdown Elimination Chamber becoming a 7-time WWE World Champion WWE finds the only logical solution to give ?Taker? a reason to maintain his undefeated Wrestlemania winning streak.

Marks around the globe drool over the potential return of Christian joining the high school drama known as Edge vs. Jeff Hardy

One of the greatest Wrestlemania main events of all-time is realized: Triple-H vs. The Undertaker for the WWE Title? ?The Company Man? vs. ?The Company’s Backbone?

While ?No Way Out? does seem thoroughly predictable, it is the WWE Title match in the Elimination Chamber you will be engulfed in. You could honestly make a case for any one of the six competitors to come out as champion and make for an entertaining Wrestlemania title match (whether it be one-on-one, the possible Triple Threat or Fatal Four-Way). I strongly encourage your replies to my perspectives on this pay-per-view and the many more to follow.

In the wild, arm-flailing ring of professional wrestling writers I am the cold, bitch-slap of reality?

Until next time, mouth-breathers.