Extreme Rules Review, 2012: Cena Wins, But Doesn’t Survive the Extreme

A bloodied Cena takes his chance to hit Lesnar with a final blow

A bloodied Cena takes his chance to hit Lesnar with a final blow

God I love wrestling. Yes there are bad times, the celebrity shilling, the occasional and relatively harmless PG racism and homophobia, but most of the time it’s good, and then sometimes you see something special, or a special night, and it’s revelatory. Chicago always provides those nights. There wasn’t a bad match on the card, and the three headline matches delivered different, wonderful stories and some great wrestling.

Preshow) Santino Marella def. The Miz to Retain the United States Championship
I’ll keep this short seen as it was a preshow match. Decent match here and a perfect warm up match for a PPV. Relatively short, with both men looking good. Miz did some nice stuff with the Cobra, big booting the Cobra itself. The Cobra recovered though to hit The Miz and hand Santino the retention. Ultimately, this was the right booking. Santino is way over while The Miz is above the US title now. Let’s just hope Miz can ‘use’ this to progress.

Match 1) Randy Orton def. Kane in a Falls Count Anywhere Match
This was a really good opener. These two have had a lot of brawls, and it would have been easy to have mailed this in. Thankfully they didn’t, and like at WrestleMania, they surpassed all expectations. The main thing with Falls Count Anywhere matches is to use the stipulation to it’s fullest; it’s one of the rare opportunities to see brawls all across the arena, and it is the only opportunity to see pinfalls out of the ring, which can be – at their best – inventive and unique. For the most part, Orton and Kane delivered this, brawling around the arena floor and backstage. This was a great choice to start off the PPV because despite spending most of the time outside of the ring,  them brawling in amongst the crowd in close quarters had them going nuts and really invested them in the match. Not only that, but the fighting was so intense, with dropkicks, body drops and more to the concrete and the running knee to Kane’s head against the wall. When they went backstage, the innovation continued, especially when they came across the WWE Superstars watching the event in the back. It was just refreshing; of course with the superstars backstage, there’s a chance that two people fighting might bump in to them, and bump in to another person who has an issue with one of the brawlers. Maybe this says a lot about Zack Ryder, but him seeing Kane and Orton brawling, and trying to attack Kane, makes more sense than pretty much everything he’s done since getting over. Of course Kane just brushed him aside, but as strange as it was, it was a very intelligent section of the match. Coming back out, they headed to the ring, and it got still more brutal, with multiple chair shots to Kane, which the Big Red Machine surviving. There were also some good, dramatic near-falls for Kane, including a Chokeslam which I totally bit for. The finish of the match was ok, if a little formulaic: frustrated, Kane took the natural next step, looking for a Tombstone to Orton on the chair, only for Orton to reverse in to an RKO on the chair for the return win. The formula of the finish aside, which was fine, the real problem with this was that it finish in the ring. This is the one chance where the match can – and is encouraged to – finish outside of the ring, and they didn’t take that opportunity. Some sort of big spot involving the set or something out of the ring leading to a pinfall in the midst of carnage would have made it great, and the finish showed a lack of imagination. A really good match let down a little by the finish. Time for both to move on now; for Orton, I think Bryan is the right way to go to elevate Bryan and deliver some classic matches, and as for Kane – that’s a harder one. I would go out there and suggest Ryback. He’s been jobbing people out enough now; have Kane attack Ryder once more and have Ryback make the save and let’s see what the guy’s got.

Match 2) Brodus Clay def. Dolph Ziggler
This was an unannounced match, and only 5 or so minutes, but it was really efficiently realised. Clay has lost a bit of momentum recently, partly because he’s not had enough serious competition, and partly because, frankly, Clay has toned down his hilarious campness. Well here we had the first time in his FUNKareer where he did have competition. For a while, with it being the umpteenth time that Ziggler has faced Clay, and with Swagger’s involvement, and with Ziggler being the prospect he is, I started to think Ziggler could get the scalp. Ultimately though, Funkasaurus was still too much for the Show Off, withstanding some great offense before striking Ziggler with that headbutt which Ziggler sells to look a million bucks before taking the big splash for the loss. Unsurprisingly with Ziggler involved, this was the best match Clay’s had yet. Now they have to progress him even more by either moving him up to another feud (perhaps a megapower cartoon feud with Tensai) or progress the stuff with both Ziggler and Swagger obsessed with beating Clay between them, leading to Ziggler finally getting the scalp. We shall see.

Match 3) Cody Rhodes def. The Big Show in a Tables Match to Win the Intercontinental Championship
This match was booked simply, but effectively. I loved the stipulation choice; it was different to the other matches, which tended to be several ways of saying ‘No DQ’. I didn’t see Rhodes winning, until it was announced as a tables match, simply because of how objectively impossible it would seem for Rhodes to get Show through a table. For the most part, the match told the immediate story of Rhodes not being able to get the best of Show, and at one point not even being able to set up a table for Show stopping him. Rhodes got a few moments of offense in, including that brilliant Disaster Kick off the propped-up table to Show, but it mostly consisted of Big Show dominance via chest slaps and some huge, nasty-looking throws in to the barricades. This doesn’t win a tables match though, and Rhodes had enough intelligence to take advantage of Show’s mistake in setting up a table and treating Rhodes complacently. With the table below him, Show was on the apron, and Rhodes dropkicked him so he fell backwards and put his foot through the table. This showed the intelligence of Rhodes, and gave him a legit but technical victory over Show, which also allowed Show an out for losing since he was hardly driven through the table by Rhodes. I was pleased to see Rhodes get the win, but it also makes me wish he hadn’t have lost the title at WrestleMania, and makes me think Show’s victory was given to him out of good will. If Rhodes would have kept the title, he would be on his way to an even more impressive reign than it already was. Ending here, I would have presumed the feud would have continued, but with Show getting the bitter Chokeslam through the table to Rhodes and then the ugly looking bump he gave Rhodes by pressing him from the ring through the table outside the ring, it gave the story a feel of closure. I hope it’s the end for the feud. It was interesting, but it’s run its course. Show should move on, perhaps to a tag team while Rhodes – if he’s ok after that final table bump – should find a new Intercontinental Championship challenger of course; and hey, if we want something fresh, give Tyson Kidd a shot. Wishful thinking I know, but it’d be great!

Match 4) Sheamus def. Daniel Bryan in a 2-Out-of-3 Falls Match for The World Heavyweight Championship
This match always promised to be fantastic, even before WrestleMania, but was finally realised last night at Extreme Rules. This one did a great match of putting on a pure wrestling match while largely ignoring all of the stuff surrounding their feud. They teased AJ involvement, and talked about the ’18 seconds’ victory a little, but for the most part, they let this be what it was: a match to finally determine the winner of the feud. 2-out-of-3 falls always produces interesting, old skool storytelling, and this was no different. I was expecting a very quick first fall for Sheamus, but what we got was better; a long, technically sound first fall, building to the first decision. Bryan was wrestling Sheamus down, working in his arm in anticipation for the YES Lock while keeping some really tough, strong grapples and strikes, while Sheamus was out-powering Bryan when on top, and adapting to Bryan’s style, like when he pulled out a very apt Cloverleaf following from a cool chain wrestling progression. The first fall finish came with Bryan smelling blood after Sheamus ran in to the ringpost and took an ungly spill to the floor with his arm caught in the turnbuckle. After Bryan worked his arm around the ringpost some more, he rolled him in to the ring, and started stiff kicking him to the arm, and in classic 2-out-of-2 falls match style, he played the long game, taking the DQ fall for Sheamus for the benefit of severely weakening his main target in Sheamus’s arm. The dividends came quickly as Bryan locked in the YES Lock. At this point, I even believed Sheamus might tap; but having Sheamus as the fightin’ babyface, it was probably best to have him refuse to tap, only to not be able to continue in the fall, and the second one therefore being given to AmDrag. Here, we had a fall for each without either man looking weak, and telling a great story about a wily heel and a brave face in a war. By this point, the match was becoming an epic saga. With Sheamus unresponsive, Bryan started leading the crowd in YES chants, getting the crowd really hot, and leading to dueling YES/NO chants. Sheamus struggled to get up, but showing both the effect Bryan had on him, and his own resilience, he hit a basic, desperation Brogue Kick which led to a good near fall which allowed Bryan to show his resilience. At this point, it became a blow for blow war as Bryan got a good near fall with a sickening stiff kick to Sheamus’s ear, which was requited with stiff forearms and other blows. Bryan tried to keep on top of him, but missed his turnbuckle dropkick and flying headbutt. With Sheamus back on top he managed to build to his finish; an Irish Curse backbreaker leading to the final, decisive Brogue Kick – sold with amazing backflip from Bryan – for an impressive win in which Bryan also looked great.  Both men gave their all, and the crowd were really into it. A great way to finish this feud and quite probably a Match of the Year candidate. For Sheamus, it looks like Alberto Del Rio will be in his future, which should lead to some good matches. As for Bryan, he needs a high profile feud to move on to now he’s so over. I support my idea about him being given Randy Orton, and I think that against a face so over as Randy, Bryan’s heat will be condensed in to more pure heel heat.

Match 5) Ryback def. Two Local Jobbers in a Handicap Match
Ryback isn’t ready for PPV really, but he had a job tonight in cleansing the palette between the MOTY candidate World Heavyweight Championship match and the Jericho-Punk match which would be looking to follow it. The heel jobbers – which I still don’t really understand other than Ryback can’t get over as a face without them I suppose – were actually quite good heels here with their repetitive ‘2 is bigger than 1’ routine. The crowd wanted to see them get beaten, and Ryback did that job well. Beating two jobbers rather than one is more impressive than his victories so far, but the people he’s beating are still essentially jabronis and his victories aren’t that impressive. Now he’s got this out of my way, I support – again – my own idea, to have him face Kane and see if he can get over as a babyface.

Match 6) CM Punk def. Chris Jericho in a Chicago Street Fight to Retain the WWE Championship
CM Punk emerging in Chicago is always the best. It is something that encapsulates what I love about pro wrestling: well, love. Part of me feels like the Ryback squash didn’t do enough to recharge the crowd from the awesome World Title match, but this reaction was at least it’s equal, and so was the match. The match itself – apart from the unfortunate formality of the Championship introductions – didn’t waste any time in then getting going, straight in to a ‘Pier 6’ brawl and the early introduction of kendo sticks and some sick kendo shots (seriously, look at the welts on Jericho’s back, if you can!). An impassioned Punk was dominating, so it made sense when the cowardly Jericho went to the referee for salvation before the veteran Jericho used the position to give Punk a thumb to the eye followed by a nice dropkick. There then followed some very unscientific but compelling brawling at ringside, punctuated by Jericho exposing the steel of the barricade in front of Punk’s sister and slamming Punk’s head in to it, before eyeing up Punk’s sister, being slapped by her, and looking to go after her. This was an important point in the match, not only in storyline with Punk’s sister’s involvement, but because the heinousness of Jericho’s implied intentions brought Punk’s urgency, and that of the match, up a further gear. Not only that, but this was pretty much her only involvement in the match aside from visual reminder of the personal nature of the feud. Best use of family in wrestling since, well, CM Punk and Rey Mysterio. Forcing himself to recover, Punk leapt on Jericho just in time to stop him before going nuts at ringside and tearing up the announce tables in foreshadowing of carnage. Until this point, i’ve always though attacks with announce table hoods are weak and shouldn’t be done, but in this match, it really worked, when Punk slammed Jericho through one that was propped up against the announce table,  before Jericho would later hit Punk with a tough blow with the broken half of the hood. Punk went on to tease a stomach-churning piledriver on the concrete, but Jericho managed to reverse in to a back body drop before taking the initiative with a shot to the spine of Punk with a monitor. This really was a nonstop, drag-out, brutal brawl, and it was unsurprising that they changed pace a little following it, returning to the ring for Jericho to dominate some. In fact, Jericho got such a hand over Punk that he was able to leave the ring to get a beer to pour on Punk before getting another for himself. The second was too far though, and showed the exact arrogance of a guy who thinks he’s the best in the world despite losing to the best a month prior – it allowed Punk t come back with some sweet, stiff kicks which led to multiple beer spits from Jericho. This was closely followed by more harsh kendo shots, including a brilliantly timed and executed kendo-assisted heel kick from Punk. This was the next step up in gears as the action quickened and we moved towards signature and finisher territory with Punk shouldering Jericho for a GTS which was reversed in to a Liontamer/Walls of Jericho attempt which was really convincing and made Punk look great and resilient to escape from. Shortly after came another, even better progression which could only be pulled off by two of the best, with perfect timing. Again attempting a GTS, Jericho escaped and hit a bulldog; looking for a Lionsault, Punk recovered, and caught Jericho exactly as he hit the ropes, and with Jericho caught on the ropes, Punk grappled him back to his shoulders for another GTS attempt, which Jericho again escaped before sending Punk into a wedged chair in the corner. This section in the ring really started to combine well the brutality of earlier with the drama of great wrestling and near-falls, and this only got more tense after Jericho hit a surprise Codebreaker from nowhere and then locked Punk in another Walls of Jericho, with Punk looking ever more likely to tap before eventually, again, making the ropes. With Jericho exploiting the Street Fight rules, Punk was forced to take what was at hand to escape, and what he used was the fire extinguisher which he first sprayed Jericho with before brutalising him with it. Punk followed Jericho on his escape, with the extinguisher, to the outside, a final shot laying Jericho out on the Spanish Announce Table. It was obvious what was coming, but that anticipation in pro wrestling, like with a lot of great spectacles, only makes the event sweeter, and so (despite the exhausted Punk barely being able to stay on the turnbuckle) when Punk finally flew through the air to connect with a Macho Man elbow through the table with Jericho, the crowd went mad and were simultaneously even more amazed by what they saw, especially given the table crashing looked even more devastating than usual. Punk then – after recovering himself- pushed Jericho in the ring and went for a count. This signified the beginning of the end. Punk only got a good near fall, but obviously unsatisfied, he went straight for an Anaconda Vice. Now I don’t know if this was intentional, but this section mirrored HHH in Undertaker’s Hell’s Gate from both WrestleManias 27 and 28 in that it involved the victim reaching out for, and then dropping a nearby weapon; the only difference here being that Jericho managed to keep a hold of the weapon and used it to bash Punk over the head to escape. Following this came the best near-fall of the night, and a really inventive one. Punk tried to keep control of the match, reaching for a chair he had tossed in to the ring ages earlier; driving it in to Jericho’s gut, Jericho grabbed the chair in that position, and used it for an amazingly smooth, chair assisted Codebreaker. I was convinced of a Jericho win, nut no! Punk survived! A frustrated Jericho, ever the meglomaniac, then picked up and shouldered Punk as if looking to beat him with his own move, only this time, Punk escaped, slingshotted Jericho in to the exposed turnbuckle before finally (after setting it up for the whole match, several times) hitting his GTS for a great, Match of the Year worthy, win! It was the best finish of the night by far in its inventiveness and unpredictability, and let Punk add another great defense to his ever-swelling reign. It was a totally different match to their masterpiece at WrestleMania, and just goes to show the breadth of their capabilities. I loved the carnage left behind them after the match: weapons, broken wood, a stripped and a destroyed announce table, and two spend warriors. This was another war. The only problem is, it’s going to get hard to justify the continuance of this great feud. Jericho was ‘given’ another shot after WrestleMania, but it perhaps needs too much grace for him to get another one, especially given Punk has now beaten by pin and submission. I hope they do get ‘one more match’, but if it does, it will need a significant progression from the alcoholism angle, most righteously involving Jericho ‘needing’ to beat Punk. If not then both men will need new opponents. For Jericho, it’s wide open, but I would figure he’d move on to a young up-and-coming face (and there aint too many of them! – Kofi Kingston, again?). As for Punk, I figure there could surely be only one man in line for a title shot, and i’ll speak on that later in the report.

Match 7) Layla def. Nikki Bella to Win the Divas Championship
This match was more of a rollercoaster before it began than it was once it began. Initially, it seemed we’d get Beth vs Nikki for the title and Kharma would come out to dominate. Then it seemed we’d get Kharma vs Nikki and Kharma would dominate. Then what we got was Nikki Bella defending against the returning Layla (though I initially thought it was Michelle McCool given the music)! I’m a huge fan of Layla, so I was in no way disappointed to see her return. Both she and the Bellas are very underrated wrestlers, and for the limited time they had, they put on a decent match (ring rust etc permitting for Layla). Some good, impressive moves from both women, but especially Layla, who was being showcased – including a crossbody from the top rope. This was all after some good, scientific focusing on Layla’s rehabbed knee from Nikki, but after Layla got control, they attempted Twin Magic. Usually, that spells the end, but Layla managed to simply beat Brie with her tough neckbreaker finisher for an emotional win. Yes, the fans were disappointed, but this was the right way to do things. This was an intense PPV, and a Kharma return wouldn’t have had as much impact, while her being mentioned and thought of as a generally terrifying prospect will only make her eventual return more impactful. Meanwhile, the belt is now back on a babyface that Kharma can terrorise when she returns, and hopefully, Layla will be able to have some impressive, Gail Kim style matches with her before Beth returns for the showdown! Oh yes, and come back soon, Bellas.

Match 8) John Cena def. Brock Lesnar
It should be noted that I was highly skeptical about this match before it took place, and after it, I disliked Brock Lesnar slightly less, so that bodes well. My main concern was about the MMA influence and how that could make the match a bit of an eyesore. The first bit of positivity came when Lesnar’s sponsored gear didn’t actually look quite as stupid as it seemed beforehand (though it was still kinda stupid). More importantly, I was worried we’d have long period of grounded grappling, MMA style, so imagine my dismay at the first few minutes of the match which was just that. Saying that, the MMA influence was, for the most part, well incorporated in to the professional wrestling match, and Cena being so bloodied, so early on, gave the match a distinct, uneasy feel, but in all the right ways. In many ways, this would be emblematic of the whole match, or at least most of it; Cena looking kind of incapable and defenseless against Lesnar. Doctors swarmed around Cena, and not for the last time while Lesnar seemed to relish his animalistic destruction. Lesnar was brutalising the face of WWE, and putting him in some pretty horrifying looking holds, especially that Kimura hold, and all Cena could muster was some pithy attempts at AA’s, which were quashed as quickly as they ever began. Otherwise, Lesnar was just finding inventive ways to torture Cena, including using Cena’s own chain to lock Cena’s feet together before assaulting him unprotected; and hanging him upside down from the turnbuckle by the chain and beating on him. As time went on, Lesnar only became more animalistic, thriving in the blood, wiping Cena’s all over him and licking it off his gloves. The match turned, however, after a big move which must actually have been a botch. With Cena hanging on to the apron, Lesnar sprung off the ropes and launched off the steps (which had been moved to the ring), but instead of just knocking Cena from the apron, he overshot and while knocking Cena off the apron, spilled over himself, taking a nasty tumble. Nonetheless, he got back up soon, remarkably, and went for the move a second time. This time, however, Cena had managed to grab his chain, and when Lesnar launched himself this time, it was in to Cena’s chain-loaded fist. This busted Lesnar open and allowed Cena to finally hit the AA, on to the waiting steel steps for a three-count few people saw coming. Some people were annoyed at this finish, and I understand why to an extent; the ultimate definition of SuperCena is when he wins a match after taking a lot of offense and hitting a few moves out of no where for the win. Usually, I hate Cena when he’s SuperCena as much as the next man, but this time it was different; Cena had been tortured, brutalised, and still stayed in the game while Lesnar was a sadistic monster. Cena earned everyone’s respect, which in the Allstate Arena shows just how epic and deeply brutal the match he survived was. A really well thought out match to manipulate the fans in to sympathising with Cena while providing a genuinely different aesthetic for a match, which is something laudable. I may not like Lesnar over a lot of top guys, but he is great in this animalistic killer role, and if he can stick to that, I think him and I will be just fine. A further shock came when Cena seemed to announce he was hurt and would be taking some time off. I think that was a work to justify some well-deserved time off, but whatever it is, it’s interesting. We don’t know how long it will be, but we will have a period of Cena-less time. This will obviously provide a huge spot for some up and comers (hopefully) to fill – i’m looking at you, CM Punk! Speaking of Punk, with him moving on possibly from Jericho, and Cena taking time off, it seems like Punk and Lesnar surely must be on a collision course. After Lesnar beat the hell out of Cena and put him on the shelf, Lesnar hasn’t lost much as a monster heel, and surely the only legitimate challenger for the title at the time of writing is Lesnar. This can make for a great feud, as long as Lesnar doesn’t squash Punk with ease. Punk has a lot to say about Lesnar, and could maul him on the mic while potentially having interesting, great matches. As for Cena, when he eventually returns, it’ll be to face a rampant Lesnar, and he’ll get a huge heroes pop.

Extreme Rules always delivers, possibly because they take the ‘extreme’ mantra seriously, and really push the boat out in terms of innovation and bodily sacrifice. Another plus point is that it coming off WrestleMania, it often provides the definite, concrete end points of quite a few feuds, which adds a a certain satisfaction to the event. All the matches here were entertaining, and at least acceptable in quality; some were very good, and the three headline matches – the most important ones – were exceptional, with the two title matches providing Match of the Year candidates. Another excellent Extreme Rules, and another excellent WWE PPV, which have been of a very high standard for the most part for a long time.

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Extreme Rules Preview & Predictions, 2012

Extreme Rules, 29/04/2012, from the All State Arena, Chicago, IL

Extreme Rules, 29/04/2012, from the All State Arena, Chicago, IL

Chicago audiences are amongst the best in the world, and among the very best in the US. Passionate and loud, they are an extra performer in any wrestling show, and invariably, one that improves the show. It’s just a shame that Chicago’s favourite son, and the crowd’s most over babyface generally, almost certainly wont be in the main event and isn’t featured on the poster. I understand it, but it doesn’t make it right. But I shouldn’t rant on Lesnar just yet. His match with John Cena is a bonafide attraction, even if it’s not one i’m personally too interested in. I’ll be live-tweeting the event, so follow me for that, and more personal insight @RTVWOW!

Preshow) United States Championship Match: Santino Marella (c) vs The Miz
This is a fairly new feature to WWE, and obviously it has a different function to the other matches, to whet the appetite for people undecided as to whether to buy the PPV and to get the crowd hot, and that affects somewhat the booking, and therefore, the predictions for the match. The other primary aspect of pediction is what is currently happening to The Miz. The former WWE Champion and ‘Next Big Thing’ (pardon the pun) now finds himself struggling to make PPV, to get wins, and to get anywhere near the title picture. His cause hasn’t been helped by starts like The Rock or Brock Lesnar returning, but it also is a possibility that Miz’s downfall is to be used as a storyline. He had a resurgence at WrestleMania, getting the pin to establish ‘People Power’ under John Laurinaitis, but he’s again disappeared. Perhaps this is all leading to a response from The Miz that will see him re-surge to the top, possibly – possibly – as a babyface. I don’t think that starts with him taking the US title from the hugely beloved Santino Marella; it would just be more middling for The Miz. Not only that, but remember the function of the match. If they want a hot crowd, get the babyface over; if they want to whet the appetite, have a championship match, not a championship changing hands. So because it’s essentially a dark match for the PPV, and because they don’t want to give away a championship change for free, I see a Santino retention here. I have no idea how, but I hope it isn’t clean via Cobra! Now the only question here is, do I include this in my prediction stats, it being a preshow match. I suspect that will depend on how right I am!

Santino Marella

Match 1) Falls Count Anywhere Match: Randy Orton vs Kane
I mentioned on twitter how hard I was finding picking the opening bout, and was close to predicting Punk-Jericho. In the end, I plumped for this match because of the Randy Orton pop being a strong enough start to the PPV. As for the match, I have among the least to say about it. I’ve said before that Orton is the inheritor of the Shawn Michaels ability to not put on a bad match, and like at WrestleMania, i’m sure this will be a good match for what it will be: brawling. I think the real success of the match will hang on the inventiveness of the booking outside of the ring. If they do unique things backstage and really push the boat out, it could be great; if it doesn’t go far beyond the ring, it could be disappointing. I think the result is pretty clear. After losing at Mania, I don’t see Orton losing this match. This should be the end of this feud, which has really ran out of material I think, and so Orton should win, and move on. That doesn’t rule out a swerve of course, as happened (arguably) at WrestleMania, but I see less value in Kane going over this time now that he has a high-profile victory over Orton.

Winner: Randy Orton

Match 2) Intercontinental Championship with Stipulation To Be Determined By Roulette Wheel: Big Show (c) vs Cody Rhodes
Since Rhodes dropped the title to Big Show at WrestleMania, the value of both Rhodes and the championship has depreciated, and that in itself suggests that Rhodes re-winning the title would be the right way to go. I don’t see it happening though, not to the Big Show. I’d be pleased, but it doesn’t mean as much for Cody as a win at WrestleMania would, and the bright side is that if he loses, he can move towards the spot he deserves – the World Title picture. The quality of the match of course depends on what stipulation it is given, and, though there is absolutely no real logic to this, I have a feeling it’ll be a goofy stipulation rather than an ‘extreme’ one – something like a pillow fight. It would be a shame for the wrestling purist, but there would be a plus side. It would give Rhodes an excuse of sorts for the loss while giving Show a stipulation he can have a bit of fun with (e.g. WMD through pillow). Of course, they could be given a cage match or something, which would be pretty cool, but whatever happens, I doubt it’ll affect the result.

Winner: The Big Show

Match 3) 2 Out of 3 Falls Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Sheamus (c) vs Daniel Bryan
The most immediate thing i’d like to say about this is that Daniel Bryan will be the de fact babyface here, and Sheamus the heel, just because of the crowd. This match could be absolutely great is the second thing i’ll say. 2 out of 3 falls matches always invite interesting booking, and there’s a lot to play off between these two, especially with the 18 second loss at WrestleMania. I don’t think we’ll get a 36 second retention here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the champion gets the first first fall in up to 18 seconds. It would be a nice echo of their recent psychology without actually costing Bryan the match early. After that, obviously Bryan will get fall 2, and I think it will be relatively clean, though a lot of that depends on it there are any DQ’s. If so, Bryan might try and get himself a DQ fall, if not, he might to it via weapon. Although falls are easier to come by in these matches, I can’t see Sheamus going down straight up to any Bryan offense, so it’ll be interesting to see how it comes about. I like what Seth Mates has suggested for the third fall, especially after what Bryan did to Sheamus on RAW, that Bryan becomes obsessed with making Sheamus tap out to one of his 100+ submissions (as acknowledged by WWE announcers) and in so doing, ends up losing the final fall. That would make Bryan look great, while explaining his loss. Whatever happens, this will be one of the best matches on the card. I can’t see Sheamus losing though – they’ll want to get him over as a champ against Del Rio going forward.

Winner: Sheamus

Match 4) Divas Championship Match: Nikki Bella (c) vs Beth Phoenix
I am very vocal in my praise for the Bellas. As twins, they make a unique attraction and are underrated as wrestlers (I also unashamedly really, really fancy them), and I think Nikki would make a good champion. Unfortunately for her, this match has nothing to do with her. The return of Kharma has been much anticipated, and we saw at the Royal Rumble four months ago that she was on her way back. It seems Nikki Bella has the title so that Beth Phoenix doesn’t have to lose it to the returning Kharma, and that makes sense. It seems the story will be Nikki retains against the injured Phoenix before Kharma reappears and destroys Nikki with Beth looking on. Kharma actually has unfinished business with the Bellas after the way they berated her when she left, so I see Kharma getting the belt back at Over the Limit, dominating the diva scene before a Phoenix return for the dream feud we’ve all been waiting for can begin. Letting Nikki keep the belt for a month will also make Kharma’s victory seem a little more meaningful (though that all depends on The Bellas’ contract status). For what it’s worth, it’d be nice to see Nikki and Beth having some time for a good match; it would be good for everyone: It makes Beth look brave and strong, fighting through her injury, while Nikki will be allowed a good victory on PPV, which again will benefit Kharma when she eventually wins the title.

Match 5) Chicago Street Fight for the WWE Championship: CM Punk (c) vs Chris Jericho
This, again, is obviously the match i’ll be most looking forward too. This will be a brawl more than a traditional, scientific wrestling match like at WrestleMania, but I trust these two to make gold of anything. One of my favourite moments ever is watching Punk emerge to face John Cena in Chicago last year to a thunderous ovation. This will happen again, and that is a great thing. I have no idea what to expect from the match itself, but their feud is personal, that if they can fight with that urgency, it will be fantastic. That is easy to predict, what isn’t so easy is the winner. Jericho certainly could win, but then either Punk would just win the title back, rendering it a little needless, or Lesnar would challenge him (see next match prediction) and that would be a heel vs heel feud with no build. So what is Punk wins? Does Jericho win another battle royal to get in the title picture? Maybe. Wrestling can facilitate anything, but it would be quite cynical to do it two months in a row. Would Lesnar take on and beat Punk for the title? After Lesnar is down with Cena, the only thing it would make sense for him to pursue would be the Championship. That could be great, but I don’t know how wise it would be to have Lesnar go over Punk with ease. These are some of  the calculations in the complicated title picture, but it makes it hard to predict. Ultimately, despite WWE’s history of jobbing out home town stars, I just can’t see them doing it to Punk in Chicago. If it is Lesnar’s destiny to take the title, Punk will need the best reign possible before dropping it, and at the least, dropping it to Lesnar is better than dropping it to most other heels on the roster just because of his monster-esque booking and a feud with him could allow Punk to flourish on the mic, especially since it seems he has some shoots in hand for Lesnar. All this nonsense aside, the match in hand will no-doubt steal the show, especially with Punk’s family to be at ringside. They are a big part of the feud, and as master psychologists, Punk and Jericho will make the most of it before handing Punk another memorable victory.

Winner: CM Punk

Match 6) Extreme Rules Match: John Cena vs Brock Lesnar
I’m intrigued by this match, but I wouldn’t say i’m looking forward to it. I’ve made my feelings about Brock Lesnar abundantly clear both here and on twitter (@RTVWOW), and I don’t relish seeing him wrestle, especially in those goofy MMA-inspired shorts which suggest its only real when it’s Lesnar. As usual, Cena is handling this all brilliantly, and it’s been refreshing seeing the attitude adjustments (cheap pop) in Cena’s character – even showing straight fear for the first time in pretty much ever. For some reason though, i’m just not pumped for the match. I think it’s partly because the result seems so sure, and also because of my worry that Lesnar will be doing MMA style grapples and beating the s**t out of Cena for a lot of the time. That style is not something I think lends itself to pro wrestling, and it isn’t one I want to see. The only result that makes any sense is Lesnar winning, and that’s fine; Cena going through a crisis of confidence is interesting, but Lesnar winning wont be of interest to me. Again, Seth Mates has come up with the sort of scenario which makes me wish he was still on WWE Creative: that after Lesnar eventually, inevitably decimates Cena, Cena is either written off TV through injury, or simply by ‘walking away’ in shame and a lack of confidence. Lesnar goes on to run rampant while Cena takes a much deserved rest until finally Cena returns to a huge reaction to save the day. It would be genuinely different and surely not that much of a risk with people like Punk, Orton and Sheamus around on the babyface side. That’s all wishful thinking though; lets just hope something more interesting than Brock Lesnar = beast that’s always on our TV happens.

Winner: Brock Lesnar

With the crowd on it’s side, I expect this PPV to be a big hit for the most part, and who knows, if the crowd is hot enough, I may even enjoy the main event (which shouldn’t be the main event) more than expected! One more time, for live tweets and more, follow @RTVWOW on twitter!

 

The RAW View (28/11/2011): Pipe-r Bombs as Punker Wins

Punk celebrates after beating Del Rio with some Guerrero-esque techniques

Note from ‘that boy right there’ RTV: This morning, I had to get up at 8.30 am to go to work, and so didn’t watch RAW live, and so only got to watch it this evening and so am only able to write The RAW View now. Mixed in to the fold is the fact that Smackdown goes LIVE tonight (in about 2 hours actually) and I have to get up even earlier tomorrow at 7.30 am, and so can’t watch wrestling AGAIN. I’m not happy about this obviously, and i’ll only get to watch it tomorrow night. If I don’t write the RAW View now, it’ll never get written, so it has to be quick.. That in mind there wont be any of the detailed, eloquent, ‘broadcast journalism’ you’ve come to expect from this site. It’ll be more a simple ‘I like this/I don’t like this and why’. So without further ado, ‘HE GO’N DO IT!’

John Cena Appeared On Piper’s Pit
At first when Roddy Piper started talking about ‘energy’ and the ‘WWE Universe’, I worried about this edition of Piper’s Pit being a bit tame, but boy did Piper deliver. Always believe in Piper. He introduced John Cena, almost accusing him of not caring about the fans’ reaction to him. Piper then tried, with admittedly limited success, to show how the WWE fans respond to him with a mix of reactions that is mostly negative, and suggested that Cena was looking so bad against The Rock because he was concerning himself too much with these people and should cut loose, respond to his haters and concentrate on The Rock, literally inviting him to turn heel. But can Cena turn heel now? Is he already heel? It’s harder to answer than you might think. It seems more and more that Cena is simply ‘something else’ – at times it’s infuriating, but when put in interesting positions (Nexus, Summer of Punk, Rock feud), he becomes fascinating. At the moment, Cena seems like a man of stifling honour under pressure from all directions, and clinging on to his polished persona at any cost. Instead of responding to the challenges of The Rock, he shrugged and complimented the Great One, when Piper attempted tough love, Cena shook his hand and didn’t rise to the violence-baiting. All he wants to do is RISE ABOVE THE HATE folks, what’s so bad about that!? I still expect him to snap and AA the Rock, like, ten times, but when he does so, will that be a heel turn, or will people, including The Rock, respect him more? If/when he can no longer rise above the hate, what will that mean for his character? It’s all fascinating, and it was all shown on Piper’s Pit.

The Miz def. John Morrison in a Falls Count Anywhere Match
I enjoyed the comic nature of Awesome Truth, but Miz especially did suffer from it. Remember the build-up to WrestleMania 27, when Miz was beating up John Cena every week and looking amazing? Well that obviously paid off more that it seemed as Miz is right back on the wagon with no transition from his rehearsed raps with a comically arachnophobic partner. The match started out explosively with the really quite shocking repeated-pipe-to-the-ankle attack from Miz to Morrison, and went on to tell a much more interesting story than people expected from Morrison’s last match with WWE (for now at least). As Miz practically ignored what he had done to Morrison, JoMo insisted on fighting, and actually had Miz on the back foot at one point. The story of this match was almost identical to Miz’s Championship-winning MITB cash-in (right down to the injured leg of the opponent), and like in that match, the sustained injury proved too much to overcome against a fresh Miz. Morrison went out explosively, being thrown in to the WWE sign on the stage befor taking a Skull-Crushing Finalé on the ramp, causing such injury to Morrison that the referee would rather stop the match then allow Miz to cover him – anice touch to get over the brutality of the finish. Miz standing over Morrison, and Johnny Ace coming out to visibly barely acknowledge him may have seemed like a burial, and perhaps it was (that’s just what happens when you leave a promotion), but nowhere near as bad as the reports that he was to job to Brodus Clay. I was never a big fan of Morrison (as regular readers will know), but I genuinely wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors. As for Miz, he certainly seemed more dominant and intimidating, but I do worry that he’ll go down the psychopathic heel route that he can do well, but that many heels cand and do do well. His more pop-culture vulture, reality star gimmick is one that is rarer, and harder to do, so I hope that side of him doesn’t get lost as it did this week, even if I did really enjoy his work this week.

Kelly Kelly & Alicia Fox def. The Bella Twins
It’s pretty refreshing to see a match that doesn’t involve the Divas of Doom – not because I dislike them, but because they have been in pretty much every divas match on TV for months. They were involved, however, doing a literal, blasé run-in around the ring in full work-out gear before running back up the ramp and leaving. No one seems to understand why this happened. This isn’t necessarily a problem though, as long as it’s explained and perhaps points to a new character trait of the Divas of Doom. I also liked how the Bellas took exception to Kelly Kelly wanting to jiggler butt like the kinda gal that gets a kick out of being oggled on Maxim, and interrupted that little spot. Despite this, the faces went over in an otherwise uninspiringly short match consisting of uninspiring action, intended, i’m sure, just to get A. Fox continuing to look strong to justify a brief #1 contendership for her.

Dolph Ziggler def. Randy Orton
Before this dream match could take place, we were asked to ‘please acknowledge the presence of Wade Barrett’ – a simple line that only extends the renewed grandeur of the ‘Barrett Barrage’ and seemed to please everyone because it’s awesome. This stayed with Barrett when he was on commentary, getting the match and the feuds over better than either Cole or King. The match itself was really good, as you would expect from two of the best workers in existence (but perhaps not as good as previous encounters). Though it was fairly inevitable, the finish with Wade Barrett distracting Orton and allowing Ziggler to take advantage with a Zig Zag (man) for the win was simple and believable, doing something good for all involved. Ziggler gets to beat a future hall of famer/top guy and look great doing it, especially with the the celebratory headstand which is becoming a trademark of the ‘Show Off’. As for Barrett, he gets further in to Orton’s head, and closer to his level. Meanwhile, Orton doesn’t look any worse, and is really helping get younger stars over to have great matches with.

Daniel Bryan Answered the Criticisms of Michael Cole
Not actually too much to say about this. I was glad to see Bryan repeat his pretty valid reason for cashing in on Henry (that it was revenge for Henry’s attempts to injure him, and that he realised that the MITB contract is an opportunity more than a guarantee, and he saw an opportunity), but I was even more glad to see Bryan simply get some time on the stick. Ok, he’s not The Rock in terms of electrifying intensity, but neither should he be. Bryan has a confident, quiet, erudite charisma which I think comes over very well, and though its a slow-burner, I think if given the sustained time on the mic that seems to be coming to him now. When confronted by Henry and his awesome, threatening tone, Bryan made even better by confronting him; boldly just getting out of the ring and walking up to the World’s Strongest Champion. Taking exception to Henry’s claim that Bryan could never beat him, Bryan made a bold but simple statement by kicking Henry in his already injured leg to exemplify just how he could beat him. In many ways, that was more powerful than a normal beat-down or his false cash-in from last week.

Zack Ryder def. Jack Swagger
Not a bad match here, but also a bit of a waste as it should have been more explicitly linked to Ryder’s potential #1 Contendership to the US Championship (as it was in the deleted backstage pre-tape). It’s a shame that Swagger was the vehicle for such an empty bit of build though. Hopefully his fortunes will change going forward, while Ryder’s pursuit of a US Championship match gets hotter and more intense.

Mick Foley Hyped This Week’s LIVE Smackdown in Seasonal Fashion
Only the Micker could get away with this and it still be entertaining. His rhyme was certainly fun, as was his costume, and very Foley-esque; I do worry, however, that it is a sign that WWE aren’t quite sure yet what to do with Mick. Hell, i’m not sure what I want to see him do, though I do know that I want to see him – perhaps explaining this kind of appearance. I just wish he could get some kind of steady position – I certainly would have no problem with Commissioner Foley usurping Johnny Ace on RAW, perhaps in a match? Why not!? All that aside, the tightness of his rhymes really did effectively build hype for Super-Smackdown, the cage match, and no Cole!

CM Punk def. Alberto Del Rio to Retain the WWE Championship
Very much like the Ziggler-Orton match, this match featured two of the best workers today, and though it didn’t nearly live up to their Survivor Series match (come on guys, it had, like, half the time!), it was certainly enjoyable and technically impressive. It wasn’t however, as prestigious an event as the announcers suggested, though I do love how Punk treats the title, kissing it before handing it to referees before matches. That in itself is a good step towards making the championship more prestigious and interesting. The story of the match was similar to Survivor Series too, with Punk taking just about the majority of the violence, almost exclusively to his left arm, while showing great resilience in staying in the match and fighting back. There was also the stipulation that if Punk got intentionally DQ’d, he would lose the WWE Championship; and with some skullduggery, Alberto (and Ricardo Rodriguez) would try to trick Punk in to getting DQ’d, first of all tempting him with an exposed turnbuckle, and then attempting the Eddie Guerrero staged chairshot spot. Punk, a vocal fan of Guerrero, reversed this though, throwing the chair back to Del Rio and taking a bump (turnabout is fair play for a face!). Charles Robinson was about to DQ Del Rio, but Punk wanted a fairer victory and so rolled up Del Rio for a near fall. The Mexican heels tried again to take advantage of the referee and the stipulation though, and this time, Punk was merciless, getting himup in the GTS position, and dropping him, using the exposed turnbuckle instead of his knee to pick up the win. A nice win for Punk, though I am starting to worry his booking is going to close to the SuperCena ilk: getting beat up for most of match before a flurry. I like how Punk is being an infinitely more believable competitor than Cena, showing an impressive grittiness which makes him a much more interesting champion, but I think perhaps he went too far in that direction this week and perhaps looked a little weak, especially after winning with an (albeit kharmic) turnbuckle shot. As for Del Rio, the nature of his loss, and the nature of his relationship with Johnny Ace, means that a rematch at TLC is most likely, probably with the Miz to follow after he’s smashed a few more people’s heads in to the ramp.

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