The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of WrestlingINC.com or its staff. They do, however, reflect those of Greg DeMarco, a man with strong opinions and a fearless nature about sharing them. Are you ready? Because he is.
Welcome to the very first edition of Best For Business, my new weekly column presented exclusively at WrestlingInc. After three years at 411Mania, I'm psyched to bring both my writing and my radio show (The Greg DeMarco Show) to the site for you to enjoy. Or hate. The choice is yours!
WWE Battleground: The Final Push
Monday's WWE RAW offering, in my opinion, finally provided the push for WWE Battleground that the prior two had been lacking. And since it's easy math, we realize that means we just had a three week build to this pay-per-view, one that seems destined to draw a lower-than-normal buy rate. Don't fear, the event will still turn a profit—but don't expect this to be a point of pride on a future quarterly financial results conference call.
CM Punk vs. Ryback saw, in my opinion, the strongest build of the already established matches during Raw. That's largely due to the amazing chemistry between Paul Heyman and CM Punk, Paul Heyman and Ryback, Paul Heyman and the audience…pretty much Paul Heyman and anyone! Sure, Curtis Axel is played off as an afterthought in this feud, but Axel basically is an afterthought in the WWE these days. Their interactions were great on this show, and the last time I was this excited about a Ryback match was, ironically enough, the last time he faced CM Punk on pay-per-view (October 2012's Hell in a Cell).
A Big Element has been added to the Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan match over the past two weeks, and unfortunately it's not named "WWE Championship." Rather, it's named Brie Bella. I don't believe Brie's involvement is "best for business," (see what I did there) but it was inevitable. Brie is on the WWE's E! Total Divas reality show, and her relationship with Daniel Bryan has been a large focus of the program. Combine that with their recent engagement, and her inclusion in this storyline was a given. But the WWE Championship—the one Triple H "held in abeyance" because it's so important to him, hasn't been focused on enough since the Raw after Night of Champions. The fans care far more about Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton than they do the WWE Championship, which is really a double Edged sword. The feud has mega-heat behind it, but the most important and prestigious championship in all of professional wrestling isn't even important enough to be a prop right now.
WWE elected to keep the participants in the Alberto Del Rio vs. Rob Van Dam match separate on Raw, and I found it to be an effective decision. One thing you'll learn about me is that I view the World Heavyweight Championship as a secondary title—almost tertiary when there's a red briefcase holder running around. This period of abeyance would have been the perfect opportunity to position "Big Goldie" as an equal world title again, but that's apparently not in the cards. However, I was surprisingly intrigued by the non-traditional build used on Raw. Alberto Del Rio continued to show the same fire he's shown since regaining the title from Dolph Ziggler, a rarity for the modern day WWE's booking of heel champions. And Rob Van Dam's time backstage with Renee Young, and their viewing of RVD's YouTube video, has me suddenly thinking their Hardcore Rules match will steal the show on Sunday.
Monday also saw the additions of AJ Lee vs. Brie Bella for the Divas Championship, Dolph Ziggler vs. Damien Sandow on the Kickoff Show, and The Shield's Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes & Goldust.
That final match, while announced on Raw for the first time, has seen a retroactive build dating back to Cody Rhodes' storyline firing a few weeks ago. This angle is as hot as it gets these days, and The Rhodes Family is riding high. Cody is poised to be a big star coming out of this angle, Goldust is insanely motivated to show he still has it and The Shield rarely disappoint. If the Hardcore Rules World Heavyweight Championship Match doesn't steal the show Sunday, this one will.
Official (and bold) WWE Battleground Predictions
Hardcore Rules for World Heavyweight Championship: Alberto Del Rio (champion) vs. Rob Van Dam
Rob Van Dam pulls off a crowd pleasing victory, capturing this first World Heavyweight Championship. This might seem to contradict the speculation that RVD is taking some time off, as well as the always expected Ricardo Rodriguez heel turn. It shouldn't. I'm also predicting a Damien Sandow Money In The Bank cash-in, and a victory that sees the revelation of a new personal ring-announcer for the savior of the unwashed masses.
Divas Championship: AJ Lee (champion) vs. Brie Bella
AJ Lee is a great choice for Divas champion, but she has no competition in the division. Meanwhile, there's a Divas' reality show just begging for a champion. What better Diva to serve in that role than the one who is getting engaged on the program itself, Brie Bella. Brie Bella wins the Divas Championship, possibly even using Daniel Bryan's LeBell Lock in the process.
Kickoff Match: Dolph Ziggler vs. Damien Sandow
In another moment of self-disclosure, I'm in my 30's—which means I remember a time when the thought of a "Kickoff Match" brought about terrifying memories of the AWA Team Challenge Series. But I digress. This match could go one of three ways. The face in Dolph Ziggler could sell like crazy and go over in the end, making the online viewing audience happy and possibly snagging a few more pay-per-view buys. Or, Damien Sandow could steal a victory from the hands of "The Showoff," cutting a promo to tease his potential Money In The Bank cash-in. However, Sandow walking away in the middle of the match could lead to the same thing, and would be smart—which his character is. Out of my three potential ending two involve a Ziggler win. Dolph Ziggler wins the Kickoff Match.
Yes, of my first three pay-per-view predictions, the Kickoff Match is the same length of the other two matches combined.
The Shield of Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes & Goldust
Of course, the stipulations around this match are that if The Rhodes Brothers win, they both get jobs in the WWE, and dear old dad Dusty Rhodes can keep his position as a trainer in the WWE Performance Center. A Rhodes' loss and all three family members are gone from the company for good. For good, in wrestling terms, is usually good for at least a month! There's no indication that the championships are at stake here, and Dusty will be in the corner with his sons. I see Dusty taking a Dean Ambrose bullet for his boys, allowing Cody Rhodes & Goldust to pick up the big win, securing their spots on the active roster.
CM Punk vs. Ryback
If you've been listening to The Greg DeMarco Show, and since I'm new here you may not have, you know that I fully expect the WWE to book CM Punk vs. Paul Heyman inside Hell In A Cell later this month. It's a nice payoff for this chapter in the Punk-Heyman saga, and another way for the WWE to use its famed structure in a blood-free era. That can be accomplished so many ways, but the path of least resistance is for CM Punk to fall to Ryback thanks to outside interference.
WWE Championship: Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton (championship held in abeyance)
No, the WWE Championship hasn't been as big of a focus as it should be over the past three weeks. But in the three weeks from Battleground to Hell In A Cell, that will change. The Triple H/Stephanie McMahon manipulation of the roster is setting up to come to a chaotic head, and it think that peak happens on Sunday and bleeds over into Monday. I suspect some outside interference in favor of Randy Orton to bring out several key roster members (Dolph Ziggler, The Usos, Cody Rhodes) in favor of Daniel Bryan, leading to a chaotic brawl that ends the show and leaves us with a no contest—no winner, no WWE Champion. That allows the WWE to properly build the championship match at Hell In A Cell, where Daniel Bryan likely finally walks away WWE Champion, starting a competitive rivalry with CM Punk that can carry us until the Royal Rumble (Randy Orton can then focus on Cody Rhodes, if you're wondering).
And in all honesty, a no-contest is the right call—it's best for business.
- I largely enjoyed the Raw debut of Los Matadores, especially the inclusion of a mascot. Primo, Epico and Mascarita Dorada went all in on their characters Fernando, Diego and El Torito. Their first outing exceeded my expectations—which isn't saying much when my expected reaction was "this sucks." It didn't suck, and I'm down. For now.
- My only concern with the debut of our new matadors was JBL's "there's something very familiar about these guys" line. First reason being that they don't seem familiar at all. They debuted a largely new (and surprisingly matador influenced) offense and played to no comparisons of their prior personas. The second reason being that if this is going to be a legit act, his familiarization with the duo could undermine their success.
- In the "your time is long gone" department, Madusa had some choice words for current WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee over the last few days. AJ posed with the old Women's Championship, causing Madusa to go on a (admittedly difficult to actually read) Twitter rant on the current champion, saying she'll never be the real champion since Madusa never lost.
My problems with Madusa's points are plenty. Madusa, who held the championship as Alundra Blayze in the WWF threw the championship in the trash can in 1995, a full 18 years ago. It was resurrected three years later, and totaled an additional 45 reigns before being retired in 2010. Where was Madusa then? And does she realize AJ Lee isn't even the Women's Champion?
In all honesty, I don't blame Madusa here. She's old news, forgotten or never known by the majority of today's wrestling fans. She's hoping for a phone call and a payday with this tweet. And possibly a Hall of Fame induction. None of which I see coming. She should be happy—she's found a successful career for herself after wrestling racing monster trucks, and she's actually forged a Hall of Fame legacy in that career.
- On the TNA side of things, Ken "Mr." Anderson commented Monday that he expects to be back in the Impact Wrestling fold "within a week." To me, this is great news for both Anderson and TNA, as he has done some of his best work with the company and is one of the few former WWE Superstars that I believe can provide some value to TNA. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that a Mr. Anderson return to TNA is… best… for… business!
Usually this will be a final point about wrestling, but I want to close by thanking you in advance for reading and commenting on the first edition of Best For Business. Whether we agree or disagree, I always love reading reader response, and try to find enough time to interact with you in the comments section. So please, fire away!
Watch out for news about The Greg DeMarco Show, soon to be presented exclusively at WrestlingInc.com. If you'd like to familiarize yourself with the show, have a listen to Sunday's effort, including a great 45-minute interview with Ohio Valley Wrestling and Resistance Pro talent Nikki St John, as well as our WWE Battleground preview picks provided by myself, cohost Patrick O'Dowd, former WWE/NXT Diva (and current Shine Wrestling star) Su Yung and Florida based independent manager/announcer Heather Lynn. You can listen here.
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