World Wrestling Entertainment has done a fabulous job selling the concept of their Fatal 4-Way pay-per-view over the past few weeks.
They did such a great job, in fact, that they forgot to book the rest of the card until this week.
And while the announcers, commentators, and wrestlers would have you believe that each competitor has only a 25 percent chance of winning the contest (or retaining their coveted world title), we all know the truth.
The fix is in, the hoax is on, and the WWE is once again attempting to trick us with their clever ruse.
Don't be fooled, fans.
Despite the intriguing dichotomy of the two World Title contests coming up this Sunday, those odds and percentages are only slightly askew.
Let's take a look at each of the featured bouts and give some real numbers, shall we?
World Heavyweight Championship Match: Jack Swagger (C) vs. Big Show vs. Rey Mysterio vs. C.M. Punk
Friday Night SmackDown's marquee match this Sunday has received more rewrites over the past month than anyone can keep track of.
After the elimination of the Undertaker and the constant lurking of his brother, Kane, much of this contest is shrouded in mystery and may actually pan out with a few surprises.
Odds: 33.3 percent
Reasoning: Recently, Rey Mysterio has been the center of Internet and dirt sheet rumors as the possible successor to Jack Swagger for the title.
Picking Mysterio to win was previously seen as a mistake given his size and Vince McMahon's rejection of such pint-sized combatants. However, it appears as if McMahon is relenting and Mysterio could be in line for another run with the strap.
All that said, Rey Rey has more working against him winning the belt than he does working for him.
Mysterio's ongoing rivalry with C.M. Punk could set up nicely for a Title vs. Mask match at SummerSlam.
But one has to remember that Mysterio's first tenure with the title was a miserable one, with him losing nearly every match en route to being one of the worst champions in SmackDown! history.
His odds, however, remain high due to the lack of competition in this category as well as the theory that giving him the belt now would erase his previous win, which many still believe was a blessing in the exploitation of Eddie Guerrero's death.
Odds: 6.5 percent
Reasoning: It has been a rough couple of months for the leader of the Straight Edge Society.
After losing cleanly to the aforementioned Mysterio at Over the Limit, he had his head shaved while he cried out for mercy. And as if that wasn't bad enough, Punk was also strapped with fledgling rookie Darren Young on NXT and a new-found affection for a ridiculous, Mysterio-esque luchadore mask.
Lately, the booking on what was WWE's strongest heel presence has been so weak that even mentioning Punk as the winner of this match is laughable.
That said, there is still a small glimmer of hope.
Punk could be a darkhorse selection if the SES gets involved heavily on his behalf.
Figuring that it would really turn the knife if he were to score the winning pinfall on Mysterio adds a new level to their rivalry as well.
Odds: 18.5 percent
Reasoning: Will the Big Show ever be the World Champion again?
In a business that is cyclical and always looking for the next breakout phenomenon, Paul Wight is one of a dying breed. His recent rivalry with Jack Swagger has done little to bolster either man's career, as a series of no-contests and disqualifications have made both men look weak.
That said, Big Show looks primed to dominate this contest with much smaller competitors in his path.
Translation: He'll be the one who gets pinned. Despite being big enough to hold his own and completely obliterate the competition, don't be surprised if he's hit with a chain of finishing moves from the opposition.
The Favorite: Jack Swagger
Odds: 41.7 percent
Reasoning: As the defending World Champion, Swagger is in jeopardy of dropping his belt without even being involved in the finish.
So for argument's sake, we'll pretend he loses.
Logistically, Swagger has nowhere left to turn if he loses his title on Sunday night. After spending the better part of three months promoting him as a main event-tier talent, Swagger won't have a prayer without the belt around his waist.
His apparent feud with the Undertaker has been put on hold indefinitely in favor of yet another Kane/Undertaker feud, making one wonder just where Swagger falls in the long run.
If you're looking for something fresh and new, keep the strap with the All-American American and don't look back.
WWE Championship Match: John Cena (C) vs. Randy Orton vs. Sheamus vs. Edge
RAW's top four active guns are swarming on this match that seems built like a powder keg ready to explode. All four wrestle similar styles of high-impact strategy, making for an interesting competition.
But this one is more elementary than toss up.
Odds: 8.25 percent
Reasoning: The Viper rarely benefits from having the title.
Orton's legacy as a champion is far inferior to that of the slithering Legend Killer fans are rallying behind each week. But if Orton's problems were limited to his presence as a champion, then he'd have a higher percentage.
Incorporate, if you will, a recent shoulder injury that still hasn't fully healed and likely won't be 100 percent by Sunday night.
Further integrate Orton's current status, in the midst of a major rivalry with his former Rated RKO teammate Edge that hasn't received the blow-off match yet, and the deck is stacked against Randy Orton.
While it wouldn't be out of the question to change gears in the Orton/Edge feud for a World Title match, Orton is the low man on the totem pole simply because he's not currently at the point where it is valuable to keep him holding the WWE title.
Odds: 15.5 percent
Reasoning: Many points can be made about Edge's chances mirroring that of his current rival, Randy Orton.
The unstable and oft-injured superstar doesn't have an easy road as champion and, again, is in the middle of a major feud, not near the end in which closure and a possible title reign would follow.
For Edge, however, there are more dimensions to having him be the champion.
His sporadic and often inconclusive title reigns are numerous, with four WWE title wins thus far and nine World title wins overall.
While he has proven to be a steady source of a slight ratings increase when he's holding the belt, the Rated R Superstar still seems lost in the WWE PG Era.
That's a can of worms I'm not currently willing to release, so just know that Edge is still a big possibility to steal victory on Sunday.
In fact, it fits him perfectly, if history is any indicator.
Odds: 18.75 percent
Reasoning: "The Champ" has certainly been booked to overcome odds like this before.
Say what you will about the love/hate relationship fans have with John Cena (and I'm sure you will), but the guy will be a featured commodity for years to come.
Attend one live event, notice a sea of orange Cena shirts and ponder exactly why this is.
Cena's title reigns are dragging right now, since the level of fresh talent he has to face is at something of a low.
Perhaps his most recent feud with Sheamus was his only standout, if only because he never got the best of the Celtic Warrior. If he drops the belt, he'll have to chase after someone who has his number.
More realistically, however, is Cena's current booking as something of a scapegoat for the NXT Season One rookie invaders. It seems as if the seven remaining NXT stars are pulling no punches: they're headhunting big time and Cena is the prey.
Don't be surprised if they play a huge part in the outcome of Sunday's Main Event.
The Favorite: Sheamus
Odds: 57.5 percent
Reasoning: And after all that, does it come as any surprise that the Celtic Warrior is on top of the hill here?
Fans may still be complaining about Sheamus' meteoric rise to the top last fall, but they certainly have no argument about whether or not he's ready this time.
Sheamus has a certain edge about him that resembles the origins of "Big" Scott Hall from the AWA. He's got the potential to be a major player as a heel and, more likely later on, a face for the WWE. He's shown that he works hard and does what is asked of him from a company that makes baffling decisions each and every week.
Sheamus' feud with John Cena is a credible example that he's ready for the big time.
Triple H will be waiting in the wings for the Celtic Warrior, especially if he's carrying gold by the end of the summer.
And again, if the NXT rookies have anything to say about it, Cena won't be walking out champion.
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