Hey everyone. First let me apologize for not having an NFL Draft Preview like I said. Some things came up and I wanted to put more time into this piece than the NFL Draft one.
This Sunday the WWE presents us with Extreme Rules, or as some people call it, "Wrestlemania Part 2: WITH STIPULATIONS!" Some people don't like this PPV, but I can tolerate it. With Wrestlemania just a month in the past, they don't have time to build up proper new programs. So the WWE needs to continue their existing Mania programs, but change them up a little bit. So they need to add some stipulations to make people not say, "I just paid $55 bucks to see these matches, why should I pay another $45 to see them again?"
Now the problem with this PPV is that the build to some of these matches have been poor, especially when it comes to the WWE Title match. There is also a big UFC PPV the night before. I don't follow UFC, but apparently it is in Toronto in the Rogers Centre, and the card is stacked. That will probably mean very low PPV buyrates for Extreme Rules.
With this being said, lets get right into the Extreme Rules Preview. After the preview, I will look back at the WWE Draft and give my take on who were the winners, losers, and where each brand stands post Draft.
Country Whipping Match: Michael Cole & Jack Swagger vs Jerry Lawler & Jim Ross
The feud that will never end. Why? Because Vince McMahon is probably loving every second of this backstage. He might be the only person that is, but it is his company, so he can do what he wants. This was arguably the hottest program going into Wrestlemania. Michael Cole was one of the most hated men, if not THE most hated man in the company. People couldn't wait to see Jerry Lawler get his hands on Cole at Wrestlemania. Finally, Michael Cole was going to be shut up once and for all.
Instead, the match was boring. Nobody took Cole's offense seriously. The match dragged on and on, before Lawler finally made Cole tap out, only to have the RAW GM reverse the decision. Now Jim Ross is fully involved in this feud. When Lawler won the right to a re-match, instead of going for Cole one-on-one, he chose this tag match. That's smart reasoning Lawler. Choose an out of shape announcer as your partner against an in-shape younger wrestler.
This program has been pretty much the same thing over and over since Wrestlemania. Michael Cole runs his mouth, Jim Ross gets humiliated, Jerry Lawler either makes the save or attempts to make the save, move on to the next show. I doubt this program ends at Extreme Rules unfortunately. Everyone would love to have Jim Ross back as a full time announcer, but Vince McMahon doesn't. He sees Michael Cole as the future voice of the WWE. If he wants to be that, he needs to stick to being a straight play-by-play man. Unfortunately, his character is so hated now that it's very unlikely that can ever happen.
I'm not sure what exactly a "Country Whipping Match" is. My guess is that it will be similar to a strap match. Possibly Cole/Ross and Lawler/Swagger will be bound together by ropes at the wrist. It could also mean that the loser of the match gets whipped at the end. One thing that will affect this match is Jim Ross health. He apparently has a broken hand after his "vicious" attack on Michael Cole last week, which only came a month too late. I think this match could set the stage for a Jack Swagger face turn. Cole takes the loss and blames Swager for it. Cole pushes Swagger too far, Swagger puts Cole in the ankle lock, and Ross and Lawler take turns whipping Cole with a belt.
WINNERS: Jerry Lawler & Jim Ross
***The Following Is A Spoiler for this Friday's Smackdown***
No DQ, No Countout, Loser Leaves Smackdown: Michelle McCool vs Layla
I'm really surprised that the WWE has decided to break-up Laycool, assuming they go through with it. I've actually enjoyed their "Couple's Therapy" sessions the last couple weeks, especially the acting of Layla. Layla has done a good job of selling shock and sadness with the actions of her former BFF Michelle McCool. McCool will be the heel in this situation. She's the bully picking on her friend for her losses, even though McCool was pinned by SNOOKI at Wrestlemania.
McCool is the better wrestler of the two, but Layla is no slouch either. She's improved greatly in the ring over the last few months. I think she could be an ok babyface diva. But the question is who moves to RAW and would be a better fit over there. I think the answer to that would be Layla. McCool would be the #1 heel on Smackdown in the Divas division. Layla could go over to RAW and team with Kelly Kelly and Beth Phoenix. She could also do a squash job for Kharma. Plus McCool is married to the Undertaker, and she probably won't move as long as he is still around.
WINNER: Michelle McCool
Falls Count Anywhere: Rey Mysterio vs Cody Rhodes
With Rey moving to Smackdown, this feud ends on Sunday. That's a good thing. While this program has been a star making one for Cody Rhodes, he needs to move on to a new opponent here. Cody's new darker side to his gimmick has been great. His promos have been outstanding in the last two months. I loved the paper bag promo on Smackdown last week. Normally something like that would be corny, but Cody pulled it off just right.
I'm sure Rey will attempt to go after Cody's face here. Of course no chair shots to the head. This match is a question of who needs the win more. The two are even as far as wins go. Cody won at Wrestlemania, Rey won a couple weeks ago on Smackdown. So this is the rubber match. Rey really doesn't need a win here. He's over with the crowd as a face. The fans, especially the kids, will love him no matter what. Cody is in line to become a future main eventer on Smackdown now, so he could really use the win in the rubber match here. It will elevate him in the eyes of the fans, and people will probably really begin to take him as a serious threat with a win here. I would love it if Cody won, then after the match beat down Rey to the point where he was off of TV for a couple of weeks. That would put Cody over as a real threat, and garner him more heat from the fans. I'm going with Cody here.
WINNER: Cody Rhodes
Last Man Standing Match: Randy Orton vs C.M. Punk
In case you haven't been paying attention the last few months, this is how this feud has played out: Punk costs Orton the WWE Title, Randy Orton destroys every member of Nexus, Randy Orton beats C.M. Punk at Wrestlemania, Randy Orton beats C.M. Punk one-on-one at RAW. So to make the obvious point: Randy Orton has looked strong here. He's now considered the #2 babyface in the WWE. The problem to me, and to some others, is that Orton's character has become stagnant and boring in recent months. In 2010, Orton was arguably the hottest wrestler in the company. He was a heel for the first half of 2010, but you wouldn't know that by just listening to fan reactions. But after Orton won the WWE Title, his character lost some steam. The reason for that was because he was playing second fiddle to the John Cena/Wade Barrett storyline, even though he was the WWE Champion.
Another interesting subplot to this match is the recent news that has comeout regarding C.M. Punk and his WWE contract. Punk is apparently burnt out from being on the road without a break for the last 5 years. Punk also doesn't like his current standing in the WWE. And it is even worse now with Miz and Alberto del Rio being on RAW. Punk feels he deserves just as big a push as Miz and Del Rio have been getting. He has a point, he's been with the company longer and is a better wrestler than the two. I would have loved to see Punk go to Smackdown instead of Orton, and then let Punk be the #1 man on Smackdown. Even though Punk eats, breathes, and sleeps wrestling, I think he may take a few months off once his contract expires. He could take the summer off, or even the rest of 2011 and return at the Royal Rumble.
With all of that being said, I see Randy Orton winning here. He's the new #1 guy on Smackdown, and he will need to be established as that. Orton has looked strong throughout this feud, no reason to think he won't here. I don't see Orton staying down for a ten count in this match. Orton wins with an RKO through the announce table. Punk continues to be put down until he signs a new contract, or his contract expires and he takes an indefinite hiatus.
WINNER: Randy Orton
Steel Cage Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship: John Morrison vs John Cena vs The Miz (c)
I have a few problems with this match, and I will get those out of the way before getting into the preview. The first is that it is a Triple Threat Cage Match. That could be the dumbest idea ever. Having three people fight inside a cage just seems idiotic, which the Miz pointed out a few weeks ago. Cage matches were designed to keep two men inside and not let anyone interfere. Of course, the WWE doesn't care about the history of cage matches, they just care about making money, and they think this concept does. If they are going to have a triple threat cage match, I'd much rather them take off the door and make the match only winnable by pinfall or submission. That's my biggest problem with the match.
Now on to the actual build of the match, which I also think has been bad. First of all, John Morrison has had ZERO interaction with Miz or John Cena. He's been more involved with R-Truth than Cena or Miz. They should have just let Miz and Cena go at it in a Cage, then have Morrison and R-Truth go one-on-one in a "Loser Gets Burned by Cigarettes" Match. Ok, not really that type of match, but some kind of EXTREME match to fit in on this PPV. All of this means that there is probably less than a zero percent chance of John Morrison walking out with the WWE Championship on Sunday.
So this brings us down to John Cena and The Miz. The question that has to be asked is this: When does the WWE want to put the title on John Cena? He's going to win the title back at some point in 2011. The hot rumor making the rounds is that the WWE wants to build towards John Cena vs Alberto del Rio at SummerSlam. I'd love to see that as a Wrestlemania match, but there is no way they can hold that off until Wrestlemania 29, so having that at SummerSlam is acceptable. If the WWE were to build that properly, however, Del Rio would be going into that match with the title. Plus, Cena has to be holding the title, or at least be involved in the title picture, come Royal Rumble time, because there is no point of having him in the Royal Rumble match since he is already facing Rock at Wrestlemania.
This is why I think the Miz is retaining the WWE Title here. Vince still loves Miz as WWE Champion. He likes all of his PR appearences he makes. I think Miz may be turning face sooner rather than later. He's been getting more positive reactions from the crowd, and I could easily see him turning face once he loses the WWE Title. I think Miz loses the Title at the June PPV, but he retains it here. Morrison goes to crawl out the cage door, only to have R-Truth come out and slam the door on his head. This also distracts John Cena, allowing Miz to hit the Skull Crushing Finale on Cena, and Miz walks out the cage door for the win. Cena doesn't get pinned so he saves face, Morrison seeks revenge on R-Truth. And on a side note, I loved R-Truth's promo on RAW Monday. Great job from him, I didn't think he had that type of promo in him.
WINNER: The Miz
Ladder Match for the Vacant World Heavyweight Championship: Christian vs Alberto del Rio
There's lots of intrigue surrounding this match. Before the Draft, this match was pretty much considered a toss-up. Now, it seems like Christian would be the obvious winner, especially with Del Rio going to RAW. The logical explanation is that there is no way the WWE would put both the WWE Championship and World Heavyweight Championship on RAW. However, the WWE has done crazier, and stupider, things in the past. With another PPV in less than a month, they could always have both titles on RAW for a couple weeks, then put one title back on Smackdown at Over the Limit. RAW is the A Show after all. I think the SyFy network would have a big problem with that, however. Plus it would look bad in the eyes of the WWE fans, having the tow major titles on RAW, and the two secondary titles on Smackdown. That just wouldn't work.
Edge's unexpected retirement has finally put Christian in a main event position. I'm sure Christian feels a bit guilty about that, but you have to step up and seize opportunity when it comes to you. Chrisitan has had many fans that feel like he deserves a run at the top, me being one of them. I for one think it is now or never for Christian. If he doesn't win the World Title here, I don't think he ever wins it. Everything is set up perfectly for it to happen, it is just a matter of Vince finally giving him the opportunity.
As far as Alberto del Rio is concerned, it seems like his destiny just keeps getting delayed. There was talk of him winning the World Title as early as the Royal Rumble. Everyone thought he would win at Wrestlemania, and most thought he would win here at Extreme Rules. Now with Del Rio being drafted to RAW, it looks like his destiny is being delayed even more. Del Rio's time will come, but it may still be on hold for a couple of months. I'd be shocked if Del Rio isn't WWE Champion by June.
I think it is finally Christian's time, and he comes through here. Ricardo attempts to interfere on behalf of Del Rio. He grabs Christian's leg, but Christian fends him away. Both men exchange punches on top of the ladder. Del Rio grabs the World Title and attempts to hit Christian with it, but he misses, and Christian takes Del Rio's head and smahses it against the ladder. Del Rio falls off, and Christian unhooks the title and becomes the new World Heavyweight Champion.
Where We Go From Here
Over the Limit is 3 weeks from Extreme Rules. Again, no time for new programs. Lets say we get:
WWE Championship: Miz (c) vs John Cena vs Alberto del Rio
World Heavyweight Championship: Christian (c) vs Mark Henry
John Morrison vs R-Truth
Rey Mysterio vs Dolph Ziggler
Kofi Kingston vs C.M. Punk
Randy Orton vs Cody Rhodes
Daniel Bryan vs Wade Barrett
It's really tough to pick a card when you don't know who will be feuding with who once the Draft results kick in. Lots of questions out there. The only match I'd consider a "lock" would be John Morrison vs R-Truth.
WWE Draft Review
Overall, I was disappointed with the entire Draft episode of RAW. The John Cena move was a shocker at the beginning, but having him move back to RAW at the end of the show was disappointing. It will hurt future drafts, because people will be hesitant to buy into the big picks early on.
I also didn't like forcing the Draft into a 2 hour show. We already know why it happened so early. Uncle Vince was scared of the falling ratings, and he felt like moves needed to be made immediately. Of course, the ratings only improved by .3 ratings points, and it hurt the build to their PPV Sunday. They weren't even able to put all the picks on the show, they did some during commercials! Also, the one thing that bothered me the most was the matches that were for 2 picks. Those matches should be competitive 10-15 minute matches, it would make the picks seem more important. Instead, both matches barely went 3 minutes, and the Randy Orton/Dolph Ziggler match didn't even get entrances! If this took place on a 3 hour show, none of these issues would have happened, we would have gotten better wrestling, and the picks could have been made to mean something more.
But either way, the WWE Draft has come and gone. So lets look at my Top 3 Winners and Losers of the 2011 WWE Draft:
1. Cody Rhodes: To me, there is no doubt that Cody Rhodes is the big winner of the Draft. With Alberto del Rio moving to RAW, and The Miz and C.M. Punk not moving to Smackdown, Cody becomes the top guy on the blue show. There's no doubt that he deserves it. As I said in his match preview, Cody has grown leaps and bounds as a character. I don't think he will immediately be put in the World Title scene, but he would be my early favorite to win the Smackdown Money in the Bank match at the July PPV. I thought Cody's main event push wouldn't come until next year, but it looks like it will be coming earlier than expected. No complaints here. I think Cody will be World Heavyweight Champion by this fall.
2. Sheamus: Everyone knows Sheamus has the potential to be a top level main eventer. He's held the position before. On RAW, he was reduced to nothing more than a jobber. Yeah he has the United States Championship, but he was way too lost in the shuffle. Hell, he just lost to Kofi Kingston in 3 minutes on RAW. Sheamus can get a fresh start on RAW. He can be built back up on the show, and can slide into a main event spot if needed. Sheamus is a good in ring worker for his size, and can handle himself in a main event spot. While I think Cody benefits the most on Smackdown, Sheamus won't get lost on the RAW heel side of things on Smackdown, and he will be asked to do more on the show, which he is more than capable of doing.
3. Alberto del Rio: There's a reason Vince put him on RAW so much leading up to Wrestlemania: He loves the guy. Vince sees him as the top heel in the Company down the line. Now, he has the chance to constantly show off his talents on the A show. With talk of Miz turning face down the line, and C.M. Punk leaving, Del Rio has the opportunity to become the lead heel on RAW. There's no doubt that he can do it, and a summer program with John Cena should be a hell of a lot of fun. I'd even like to see him work a program with Miz once he turns. Del Rio has been one of the best characters in the WWE since his debut, and there's no reason he won't continue to entertain down the line.
1. C.M. Punk: Punk was upset about his position before in the WWE, and I'm sure he is more upset now. With Miz and Del Rio currently on RAW, Punk is no higher than the #3 heel on RAW. You could also make an argument that he will soon slip behind R-Truth on the pecking order. Punk deserves a lot better than he is currently getting. There really is no program for him once he finishes up with Randy Orton at Extreme Rules. Cena is with Miz, Morrison with R-Truth. He could go back to Rey, but they had a long program last summer. He could be used to elevate Kofi Kingston, which wouln't be a bad idea. Long story short, Punk is a man who looks to be lost in the shuffle, with no clear path for him moving forward.
2. Sin Cara: I need to preface this by saying the following: I'm looking forward to watching Sin Cara wrestle on Smackdown. He should be given a lot more time on their to showcase his skills. The reason I consider Cara a loser is because it is obvious that the WWE has lost some faith in him. They put him on RAW because they thought he could be a top attraction. Instead, people are talking more about his botches than his moves and look. On Smackdown, at least they can edit it out some of his screw-ups. Either way, it will be tough on Cara knowing that they couldn't trust him on a live show, so they had to move him over on Smackdown just to fix up his mistakes.
3. Dolph Ziggler: I thought Ziggler's move to RAW earlier in the year would be a good one for him. He had the ability to showcase his wrestling ability. He had a good look with the slick-backed blonde hair. But he's gotten rid of the hair, and has been lost on RAW ever since Wrestlemania. That seems to be the theme of mid-card heels on RAW. No direction for them whatsoever. He didn't even get an entrance this week on RAW, and then lost cleanly in 3 minutes to Randy Orton. Ziggler is behind Miz, Del Rio, Punk, and R-Truth on RAW, and now he may even fall behind Jack Swagger and Drew McIntyre.
Where Does this Leave Each Brand?
RAW: The RAW side of things is very heel heavy. There has to be a face turn coming soon. Right now the Top 3 faces would be Cena, Mysterio, and John Morrison. I would guess Jack Swagger will be the first person to turn. I believe he will turn on Cole at Extreme Rules, and Cole will find someone new, possibly Dolph Ziggler or Drew McIntyre, to help him out. Kofi Kingston could always be elevated as well, but some people believe his time has come and gone.
SMACKDOWN: On Smackdown, there is opportunity for multiple people to step up. Randy Orton will be the top dog, but there will be plenty of room for younger guys to step up. That list includes Cody Rhodes, Sheamus, Wade Barrett, Daniel Bryan, and even Ted DiBiase Jr. Smackdown should be a lot more entertaining now, especially as a wrestling show. With all of these young guys on the show, it will be fun to see which one grabs the opportunity to become the new top dog in the company.
That's all I have for today. I should have an Extreme Rules Review either early or late Monday.
Until next time,