Unfortunately, I have to open this with a criticism. This has to have been the worst built WWE PPV in years. Fair enough the draft caused a huge distraction, but its all just been a bit limp. WrestleMania hangover maybe? There have been some well built matches. This week’s go-home Smackdown brought Christian to the fore where he has needed to be. The LayCool match builds itself and has all their history behind it. So much attention has been paid to Cole/Swagger/King/JR that it has probably taken from the build of other matches. This is not to say, however, that it will be a bad PPV. In fact, in many ways, the card is stacked (ignoring the commentators whipping each other) and the ‘extreme’ nature of the night adds an extra dimension to the whole night, especially as WWE emerges from it’s ultra-sanitary era and pushes the envelope a little more. So, without further ado!
Match 1) Christian vs Alberto Del Rio – Ladder Match for the Vacant World Heavyweight Championship
This is a difficult match to predict. The heart says Christian, the head (smark) says Del Rio. Del Rio definitely has the higher profile and is on an absolutely meteoric rise, underpinned by his draft to RAW while Vince is said to not be high on Christian as a main-eventer. Usually, Del Rio would go over without any doubt, but that would be to overlook the reason why Christian is even in this match in the first place, and that is his emotional attachment to the recently retired future Hall of Famer Edge. The people want to see Christian win the title, and that’s a big factor. Del Rio going to RAW is also a factor. Smackdown has been something of a whipping boy in the past, but they wont leave it without a top title, which is what would happen if Del Rio won. Now, they could always find a way to get the title on Orton, but that seems complicated, and what would Orton have done on Smackdown to earn a shot at their title? If Del Rio stayed on Smackdown, I would have backed him and the face-chase, but seen as he isn’t, for those reasons, i’m picking Captain Charisma to finally get his hands on the belt on Sunday, even if it is just for a cup of coffee. As for the match itself, i’m expecting big things. Christian is an innovator of the ladder match, and will know how important a huge performance from him is if he wants to remain in the main event. As for Del Rio, he is just great, and at TLC last year had an honourable showing.
Match 2) Sheamus (c) vs Kofi Kingston in an Extreme Rules Match for the United States Championship (?)
Ok, so this is a complete guess as it hasn’t been booked yet, but there are two reasons I think this will happen. After the draft, both the US and IC titles are on Smackdown, which obviously wont do. I was expecting one to change hands to an outgoing superstar on Smackdown, but since that didn’t happen, it’ll have to happen at Extreme Rules. What did happen was Sheamus brutalising Kofi Kingston on Smackdown before what was meant to be a title match. He’ll get it on Sunday, and he’ll take the title back to RAW. Why Kofi is getting it is beyond me. He’s been boring the life out of me for a while now. Kofi was really the only viable outgoing superstar so maybe having someone come from RAW to reclaim their title, someone fresh like Evan Bourne, would have been good. They’ll have a decent enough but short match. Sheamus drops the title so he can feud with Christian over the title. How’s that for a bold prediction! Oh God, that means more Orton vs Sheamus down the line!
Winner: Kofi Kingston
Match 3) Cody Rhodes vs Rey Mysterio in a Falls Count Anywhere Match
Tough to call. Rhodes has absolutely shone in this feud, and his promos including paper bags have been star-making. Had he not won at WrestleMania, and if it wasn’t to be Rey Mysterio’s last Smackdown match, I would have no hesitation in giving it to Rhodes, but losing twice in a row to Rhodes at PPV and heading to RAW doesn’t seem a great way forward for Mysterio. On the other hand again though, Rhodes still needs this victory far more than Mysterio. I have a feeling Cody will be moving on to Randy Orton after Sunday, and it’ll be very hard to seem credible against WWE’s #2 guy coming off a big loss. These guys have had so much history that a straight-up brawl will seem believable and so a Falls Count Anywhere could work. I always want Falls Count Anywhere matches to finish outside of the ring myself, and you’ve got to think it will as that is the whole basis of the stipulation. With solely that in mind, i’m backing Cody Rhodes. Non of Rey Mysterio’s major offense is possible without the ring being used. In the crowd or by the stage, he wont be able to 619 anyone. I see this one increasing in intensity before Rhodes eventually does something shocking like pushes some equipment on to Mysterio, earning the victory. Mysterio can afford it.
Winner: Cody Rhodes
Match 4) Layla vs Michelle McCool, No Disqualifications, No Count-Outs – Loser Leaves WWE
This is less of a ‘prediction’ as it is being said with near certainty online that Michelle McCool is legitimately leaving WWE after this match, and not just for a break. While I can’t imagine McCool never coming back, and certainly hope it’s not the case, it seems like a possibility, and makes this match an almost definite win for Layla (barring swerves and the like). Its a shame, because I always hoped for a great feud between these two after their long association. With that in mind, have high hopes for this match. I think it will get decent time and i’m sure if it is they’ll be able to put on a really good show and do the divas proud! As for Layla, I would have pegged her as a babyface, but without Michelle, on Smackdown, she may have to stay heel after this match.
Match 5) Randy Orton vs CM Punk in a Last Man Standing Match
God this match has ‘awesome’ written all over it, even without Miz! The main speculation surrounding this match (especially given the lack of build since ‘Mania) is about the rumours of CM Punk wanting to leave WWE for a while, at least. People seem to assume that Punk will not get anything significant for that reason, but really, it could work both ways. WWE, trying to get Punk to sign a contract extension, could give him good results like this to sweeten the deal. All I know is that these two are two of the most sinister characters in recent wrestling history, and a match like this is made for them in both the brutality, and the sinister psychology of trying to be the ‘last man standing’. I hope it lives up to that expectation and sure it will, though it’s difficult to imagine the booking of the match. I dunno … Orton won at WrestleMania, so …
Winner: CM Punk
Match 6) Michael Cole & Jack Swagger vs Jim Ross & Jerry “The King” Lawler in a Country Whipping Match
Right, i’m sure they’ll explain the stipulation before the match starts … The match at WrestleMania was rightly panned as the lowlight of the show. It wont be booked like a wrestling match again, that much is clear from the stipulation. Swagger vs King to start. King gets the best of Swagger. Cole berates Swagger. Swagger leaves Cole. King beats on Cole. J.R. beats on Cole. One of them pins Cole. The crowd goes wild. The angle is over. And thank God, as much as Cole is a fantastic heel, it should have finished at WrestleMania and it has started to consistently take precious TV time away from wrestlers, and that is unacceptable.
Winners: Jerry “The King” Lawler & Jim Ross
Match 7) The Miz (c) vs John Cena vs John Morrison – Cage Match for the WWE Championship
In many ways, this match has had the most anonymous build. Has Morrison even been in the ring with either Miz or Cena? I can’t imagine how this match will be booked inside the cage, though i’m sure Morrison, who needs to shine more than anyone else there, will pull out some cool parkour-inspired move with the cage. The Miz will retain this and extend what has happily become a lengthy Championship reign. I’ve heard some say they’ll have Cena go over so Del Rio can feud with him over the title, but what about Miz? Cena and Del Rio don’t need the title to feud. Their profiles are enough to make people watch whatever the circumstance. That is, however, why Del Rio could be involved. Bitter about not gaining the World Title, he comes after the biggest dog on RAW, and prevents Cena from escaping. It is obvious, though no less the right booking, that R-Truth will do the same to Morrison to continue their feud. In fact, if both he and Del Rio were out at the same time during a race to escape the cage, allowing Miz to escape unopposed, that would be awesome. If this is how it goes, I would personally see the World Title match open the show. I picked this because its the RAW main event for the WWE title and involves both Cena and Miz, but the emotion of Christian win the title would be a better closing shot, so don’t be surprised if these matches are switched on the card. Saying that, if it is booked as i’ve suggested, we would close with three heels backing up the ramp, triumphant with the faces, dejected and/or angry, still inside the cage, which in itself is pretty cool.
Winner: The Miz
Lots of cool matches there, extreme rules and a guaranteed BRAND NEW World Champion. Sounds good to me.