I've said in a previous column, but it is PPV's like these that have completely water downed the gimmick match in the WWE. Now, I will give the WWE some credit. They have actually done a decent job making some of these matches seem like they need the gimmick. I think the two best examples are Lesnar/Cena and Punk/Jericho. I would still prefer to see a PPV without gimmicks, but that would result in the WWE actually having to try to book a rematch PPV that people care about. The WWE feels that a gimmick match would pop a buyrate for the PPV. It happens from time to time, but in the end, a compelling storyline is all that most wrestling fans care about.
I will say that this PPV is one that I want to see. You know Punk/Jericho will put on a good match, as will Sheamus/Bryan now that it should be given time. And of course, everyone is interested to see what Brock Lesnar will look like in his return match. This should be a PPV worth watching. If you have the money to spend, I would probably buy it. If not, well, I guess some of you know how to watch it.
On to the Preview!
United States Championship: Santino (c) vs The Miz
This match will be on the pre-show online. A year ago, the Miz was main eventing this PPV. Now he can't even make the actual card. If you would have told me a year ago that in April 2012, Santino would be higher on the card than Miz I would have laughed in your face. But the Miz has failed to add anything to his character and has been booked poorly in the last few months. And for some reason, he apparently took most of the blame for the Survivor Series buyrate being so low. You can only do as well as you are booked.
If Santino was ever actually allowed to wrestle he would be decent. But he's pretty much a 3 move guy. Hip toss, diving head butt, Cobra. I highly doubt Santino is losing in a non-built match on the pre-show of a PPV. Miz succumbs to the three moves of doom, and Santino retains the United States Title.
Divas Championship: Nikki Bella (c) vs Beth Phoenix
This is a rematch from RAW. You know Beth will be selling the hell out of her ankle injury. It isn't real, in case you already didn't know that. The plan is to have Kharma return and squash the Bellas, giving them an exit to the Company. The WWE wants Beth chasing Kharma for the Title and not losing it to her right away, which is smart. So with that in mind, Nikki Bella retains here after Beth "re-injures" her ankle. I would expect Kharma back in the coming weeks.
WINNER: Nikki Bella
Intercontinental Championship: Big Show (c) vs Cody Rhodes
I really, really hope that the WWE has something big planned for Cody Rhodes after this program with Big Show. The loss at Wrestlemania was expected, I don't have any qualms with that. Cody hasn't looked too good since Wrestlemania. He lost a six man tag match on Smackdown and then lost to Big Show and Great Khali on RAW when Alberto del Rio walked out of the match. I thought Rhodes would take Barrett's role on Smackdown as the rising star, but that does not appear to be the case at all. With Del Rio next in line for Sheamus, and Christian's return imminent, you have to wonder what is next for Cody. I think a move to RAW would be perfect. I could see a program with John Cena once he's done with Brock, or even a brief summer program with C.M. Punk. I hope the WWE doesn't think this is Cody's ceiling, because he is capable of much more.
Big Show with the Intercontinental Title at least keeps him away from the main event scene, which is somewhere I don't want to see him. It gives him something to do with the likely long term goal being putting someone over. My guess is that it is one of the new guys coming up, whether it be Antonio Cesaro or someone else. After that, look for the possibility of a tag team with Great Khali. They've been doing that the last couple weeks. Again, if it keeps Big Show away from the main event I'm ok with it.
As far as this match goes, whenever the stipulation is announced, I still expect Big Show to win. Cody needs to step forward in his career and not go back to the IC Title. Hopefully that is where Cody goes going forward. Show wins with some EXTREME variation of the KO Punch.
WINNER: Big Show
Falls Count Anywhere: Randy Orton vs Kane
Kane has been surprisingly entertaining in this feud, mostly because of his funny puns. I still get a laugh out of the "I'm a sucker for family reunions," line. Basically its a good thing you aren't in this feud because your family members would be in trouble. Kane took out Randy's dad, Cowboy Bob Orton, on Smackdown. Then Randy Orton locked Paul Bearer in a freezer on RAW, but Kane didn't seem to care because he took him out and put him right back in there. For those that care, Paul Bearer is suffering from extreme hypothermia. But if he can survive being buried in cement and whatever Edge did to him, then I think he can survive this. Paul Bearer is a fighter!
The WWE is trying their best, but I just can't buy into this feud. I had some hope for Kane's character when he came back with his mask, but I lost any interest I had in him after the John Cena feud. He was jobbed out to Cena and I thought for sure he would do the same with Randy Orton. I was actually quite shocked when Kane beat Orton at Wrestlemania. I think that was done to specifically get Kane a win before losing to Orton here. Kane is essentially a veteran on the roster to help put people over. He's on the last legs of his career. He just turned 45 years old. Kane, real name Glen Jacobs, is a great guy backstage and always looking out for young talent.
So, a Falls Count Anywhere Match? So what we have to figure out is how Randy Orton hits an RKO on Kane from OUT OF NOWHERE! My guess? Orton RKO's Kane from off the stage onto something laying off the side of the ramp. Orton moves on to something else.
WINNER: Randy Orton
World Heavyweight Championship: Sheamus (c) vs Daniel Bryan: 2 out of 3 Falls Match
If the WWE tried, I'm pretty sure they could squeeze two falls into 18 seconds if they want to break another record. Of course, it that happened, there may be a riot in Chicago. It wasn't the WWE's goal, but Daniel Bryan is now more over than he was before Wrestlemania. And they have no one to blame but themselves. Had the WWE booked an actual match and Bryan lost, they wouldn't have any fan backlash to worry about. And now they have put the World Title run of Sheamus off to a rocky start. The rumor is that Sheamus was suppose to have a long run. Sheamus, as much as he doesn't deserve it, will suffer some of the backlash from the fans. He was pretty over with the fans before this. Maybe once this program is over will get Sheamus back to normal.
If it isn't obvious by the booking, this match appears to be the end of this program. Alberto del Rio has already earned a World Title Shot after defeating Sheamus in a non-title match. He appears to be next in line here. But if I'm the WWE, I'm not burying Daniel Bryan just yet. I would keep him around, at least for Over the Limit. A triple threat match is always a possibility. If you have Bryan face Del Rio and make him beat ADR to get in the match, it at least makes some sense. Plus, it could lead to a Bryan face turn, which could be down the road. I don't think Bryan's cheers are going away anytime soon. And with Christian, Del Rio and Cody Rhodes already on the heel side of Smackdown, Bryan as a face isn't out of the realm of possibility.
With this PPV being in Chicago, you can bet your bottom dollar that Bryan will get cheered heavily here. Again, you have to feel bad for Sheamus. His World Title reign is off to a bad start. And since this is a 2 out of 3 falls match, you can pretty much bet that his match will go to a third fall. Lets say Bryan gets the first fall with a quick roll-up. Sheamus gets the second fall after a Celtic Cross. During the third fall, Sheamus gets to the ropes to break the YES Lock. A.J. comes to ringside and distracts Bryan again, allowing Sheamus to connect on the Brogue Kick and pick up the win. A.J. gets her revenge for Bryan breaking up with her.
WWE Championship: C.M. Punk (c) vs Chris Jericho: Chicago Street Fight
I thought immediately after Wrestlemania it was going to be tough for these guys to stretch out their feud again. But Jericho has turned away from bashing Punk's family and has now turned to trying to get Punk to take a drink of alcohol. Jericho thought he finally got Punk to break this past Monday, but Punk was playing Jericho the whole time. Even though Punk still did screw up the alphabet backwards. Someone give that man a breathalyzer!
I thought these two put on an exceptionally good match at Wrestlemania. I gave it ****1/2 stars, which is a bit high when you compare it to some other reviews. I really enjoyed it, especially the last ten minutes. Great back and forth action throughout. I would expect this match to be completely different. With their being no disqualification, expect Punk's motive in the match to be "Beat the Hell Out of Jericho," from a storyline perspective. Jericho has brought down Punk's family for weeks, and now Punk finally has a chance to do what he wants to Jericho with there being no disqualifications.
Like I said in the intro, I really think this feud could be stretched to Over the Limit. These two are two of the best workers in the business today. I wouldn't be surprised to see some sort of stipulation being added to that match too. The last two WWE Title matches at Over the Limit have been "I Quit" matches, I could see the WWE going that route here, especially if Jericho is leaving to go on tour with Fozzy this summer. I would have thought that if Chris Jericho was going to win the WWE Title at some point during this program, it would have been at Wrestlemania. Then Jericho wins again here before Punk wins the WWE Title at Over the Limit. Even though the WWE doesn't have a good track record with wrestlers performing in their own hometown, I think Punk retains here. Punk hits the Macho Man Elbow through a table for the win.
WINNER: C.M. Punk
Extreme Rules Match: Brock Lesnar vs John Cena
Well, its time to see if Brock Lesnar is worth whatever money he is getting paid. I was very surprised to see the WWE go with this match-up so early, but what else could they have done? Lesnar wasn't going to start with some mid-carder and work his way up to Cena. Lesnar needed to make an impact with his debut and he did by attacking Cena. I think Lesnar has been hot and cold so far. His debut and pull apart brawl with Cena were good, as well as his video promo from a couple weeks ago. The final segment of this past week's RAW, however, was not very good. And having Lesnar cut a live promo like that was not the best idea. I understand the point they were trying to make with it. John Laurinaitis thought he was bringing in his guy, the guy he wanted to be the face of the WWE. But instead he brought in a guy who was out for himself. The problem is Lesnar is not a good promo and he constantly repeated himself and took too long to get to his point. It's why he had Paul Heyman during his initial WWE run.
John Cena, meanwhile, continues to be the "Bitch to the Stars." He goes right from fighting the Rock to fighting Brock Lesnar. Now as I said, I thought if Cena lost to Rock he should take some time off to "re-focus his game." But the WWE would never do that with their golden goose. Cena, for his part, has been tolerable during this whole Lesnar program. I've always said that when Cena doesn't come out all smiley and goofy he is a very good character. The problem is Cena can never stay serious forever. I liked the Edge promo on RAW. It gave Cena a purpose and realized that, just like with Rock, he needs to win this match. Cena can't let someone come in and take his spot in the WWE. Cena is slowly being pushed off his pedestal and he needs to regain it.
It's a good thing this match was made an EXTREME RULES MATCH. Lesnar is probably not ready to wrestle an actual wrestling match. The gimmick match and the weapons will hide Lesnar's limitations in the ring. It is hard to imagine Cena losing two PPV matches in a row, but I can't see any way around it here. Lesnar losing in his first match back is no good. He may stay undefeated until next year's Wrestlemania. I expect him to run the WWE gauntlet, facing C.M. Punk, Randy Orton, and maybe even Triple H en route to Wrestlemania 29. Lesnar wins here after he hits an F5 on Cena onto a chair.
WINNER: Brock Lesnar
I will more than likely be updating Extreme Rules live on Sunday. Keep to my Twitter for updates.
Until Next Time,
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