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Sunday, 7 June 2009

Extreme Rules Preview

It may well be an easy pun to say that this Pay Per View ranges “from one extreme to another” (in fact I think I did last week on The Sun’s site) but the dichotomy of a PPV which has a Jeff Hardy v Edge ladder match and a Hog Pen match between a non-wrestler and a guy in drag is certainly different.

This is the time of PPV that could go either way. I can see there being at least three matches which have the potential to be very good indeed. However, the build to it has been average, and it is difficult to have much investment in several of the feuds.

Santina Morella v Vickie Guerrero (Hog Pen Match)
It’s difficult to believe that Vickie had nuclear heat only a couple of months ago, and was almost the most hated in heel in company. Now, she is relegated to a comedy feud, and I use the word comedy very loosely.

Santino, in turn, has been comically neutered by turning face. As a heel who gets shown up, he is hilarious, but snorting like a pig isn’t as funny as many of his other, quite subtle at times, mannerisms. Since his alter ego Santina appeared on the scene, it’s been dire, although I will admit that I laughed a few weeks back when he/she joshed with JR.

I don’t care who wins the match, I just hope that they can do it quickly, make seven children laugh and then get off, and never come back to this feud.

Prediction: Apathy, and maybe Vickie with some help, will win the day. There is more scope in the idea of Vickie being Miss Wrestlemania and using this as a tool for being more annoying.

CM Punk v Umaga – Strap match
I didn’t really see the logic of having these two wrestle on Smackdown ahead of their PPV match. Punk picked up a win with Umaga going for the strap, so instinct might suggest that the Samoan goes over in this one, and that Punk was winning so as not to look too bad, as his opponent was winning again Sunday.

Look for the typical strap match move, where the stronger heel pulls the babyface around but the wily good guy will touch the turnbuckle after his enemy. That is assuming this is the rule.

To me, there is an easy set up for promoting (in terms of card position) Umaga using CM Punk, and this is by virtue of the Money in the Bank factor. Umaga beats Punk, but Punk cashes in and wins the title. Theoretically you have two heels pissed off at Punk – the former champ (in this case Edge) and the guy who bested him (Umaga). Throw in a title switch to Jeff before Punk’s interference and you have a third guy annoyed, because he’s lost a belt and Edge’s gripe would be that he is entitled to a rematch.

I’m not saying that they will go with the Punk run-in tonight, but just explaining that if they did, they are well covered for ways to prolong the story should they choose that route right now. The main problem would have been that Umaga wouldn’t be able to vocalise his point in the traditional way, with his character being a non-Anglophone. But he talks now, apparently, so this might not be an issue.

Prediction – I think Umaga wins, and depending on happenings elsewhere, could be set for bigger things at the top of the card, or maybe an IC run with Rey?

Fatal Fourway for the US Title – Kofi Kingston (c) v William Regal v MVP v Matt Hardy
A reasonable use of these four mid-card wrestlers, all of whom are more than decent hands. I don’t know whether this will be an elimination contest, but I would assume not.

My initial reaction is that it is pointless to have Kofi Kingston win the title on Raw only to drop it again so quickly, so he’d be my pick to win. Since these theories aren’t always watertight, I’d best have a couple of back up explanations.

One would be that MVP winning the title back wouldn’t hurt Kofi too much, especially if MVP pins either Hardy or Regal. You then have the stage set for MVP saying he’s the greatest US Champion, but Kofi reacting by saying “Well you didn’t beat me.” Cue PPV match.

The other way of looking at it might be a Regal and Hardy coalition, fitting their storyline of being aligned under the guise of lackeys for Vickie G. Although why Matt would be an underling to a wife of Edge’s I’m not quite sure.

With these two being sort-of-buddies, they could pair up to effect and dominate in this way. I’d say this is likely to happen for a time, but then an argument will start up over who will win, leading to their self destruction.

Prediction – the aforementioned Regal/Hardy argument to come after they have disposed of MVP, but Kofi to take advantage and score a win.

Intercontinental Title – Chris Jericho v Rey Mysterio. No Holds Barred

These two had a cracking match at the last WWE PPV offering Judgment Day, so I’d be very hopeful of another stunning effort. Jericho is perhaps the best in the business and having fresh matches with the same guys, and these two have such a back catalogue of matches from the WCW days to call upon that most WWE fans won’t have seen.

To me, the big issue in this one is on the aspect of whether they use the No Holds Barred stip. This basically means no disqualification, and therefore I would like to see typically illegal moves and weapons to be introduced early on. They had a couple of brawls on Smackdown in recent weeks suggesting they hate each other and are desperate to fight. Therefore, you would not start a wrestling match, even one with a title on the line, with a stand off and a lock up. It wouldn’t make sense.

Their last contest was a great wrestling match, this ought to be a bit more of a brawl, but they are still more than capable of putting some entertaining stuff in that.

On a card which features Edge and Jeff on ladders, this will go some to be match of the night, but they’ll likely have a crack at it.

As for the winner – It’s a really tough call. The fact that Rey won last time and that Jericho is a major heel suggests that the former Y2J would be a likely victor, but I don’t see how it helps him winning the IC strap AGAIN. He can also likely build his heat for a world title position again with his vocal skills and character development.

I’d suggest that he and Umaga could swap feuds after this. An Umaga challenge for Rey’s IC Title makes sense to me, while Jericho battling (and beating) Punk could set him up for a rise in the ranks, and could take the position I spoke about earlier, as a vanquisher of Punk and a perfect choice to be complainer-in-chief who thinks he deserves better.

Prediction – I think the IC Title fits better on Rey. Him winning is more logical to me, as Jericho can build his heat up if he needs to.

On More Thing.....I’d also like to point out that if they do go with a Jericho win, and they go with an Umaga v Rey programme, that Umaga attacking Rey during the match, remembering it’s no DQ, could give Jericho a win and a ready made angle for Mysterio and the burly Samoan.

ECW Title – Jack Swagger v Christian v Tommy Dreamer
This match feels like it’s just there, with no real anticipation build. I like the idea of giving Dreamer a send-off on a decent platform, and while not Wrestlemania, it is at least not an ECW show with one man and a dog watching.

He surely can’t win. It makes no sense to have him go over, and would simply harm the burgeoning Swagger and the ongoing push of Christian. I would expect, though, to see plenty of near-falls for Dreamer, giving the impression that he might just pull it off.

I think I’d like to see Swagger win on one level, since it could be an appropriate time for him to regain, and gloat at retiring Dreamer. It also wouldn’t hurt Christian too much losing a title in a three-way. However, longer term, Swagger being champion means a less obvious opponents for the title, and although he and Christian have worked well, we don’t need another of their matches on PPV.

Christian retaining sets up matches with DH Smith, Tyson Kidd, Mark Henry and a babyface outing with Evan Bourne could be set up. If Swagger wins, only really Christian and Bourne fit the bill, with it being rather pointless to elevate Finlay at this point.

Prediction – I think when you look at the most likely eventualities, Christian retaining makes the most sense, but I say that will little conviction. Hopefully there will be a nice little post match send off for Dreamer, with Christian acknowledging and Swagger demeaning the ECW original. Oh, and don’t expect a classic wrestling match – expect Dreamer, and to a lesser extent Christian, to take a pummelling with weapons.

Big Show v John Cena – Ploddingly slow submission match
I don’t anticipate a classic here by any stretch. I don’t think these two have particular chemistry, and neither do they possess an innate ability to change their matches. They often follow quite a similar formula, and I’d expect it to go as follows.

Cena with a flurry, tries the STF, fails. Show takes over. Keeps beating on Cena, Cena won’t give up. Every now and then Cena fights up and tries a submission hold, mostly the STF, keeps failing. More Show pressure, more superman Cena refusing to tap, maybe even powering out of a camel clutch. Eventually John will lock in either a modified STF or a brand new move, and win. It’s what he does.

Prediction – Erm, John Cena. And see above.

Randy Orton v Batista – WWE title match, in a cage.
I just can’t get excited for this at all. To me all the action at this PPV is from the featured Smackdown matches, while Raw’s offerings just don’t match up.

I don’t find Dave Batista all that much of a draw, and while I do like Orton, he has been stifled so much of late that he just seems to be a sitting duck until Triple H comes back and murders him.

I don’t think that a cage provides that many outlets for putting together a creative match, so these two have their work cut out.

You have to look at title matches and to pick a winner you must look at who is waiting in the wings to take on the champion, whomever it may be. I’d suggest that a Batista win just leads to Orton v Batista again, and I don’t know either man would go apart from that.

Triple H is the elephant in the ring, and when he returns things can go a couple of ways. He could be the returning virtuous babyface and win out, or there could be a falling out between him and Batista.

How about this one.....remember there has been another man involved in the Orton/Batista build-up. So what if Hunter returns, doesn’t see eye to eye with Batista, both men hate Orton, who reciprocates their dislike. So a triple threat is booked for the WWE Title.........

And Ric Flair is the special referee.

Sounds good, huh? The three active Evolution wrestlers battling with their former senior member as the man in the middle.

Following that up, it would actually make little difference about who is champion, as both Randy and Dave would be involved, plus Hunter. I’d actually like it if Batista was champ at this point, and it would lead to more antagonism between him and the Game. If Triple H returns and wants the belt, and Orton is champ, he’d logically just get the shot, because Batista failed to get the job done. But if Batista is champ, then Trips and Randy would be both be angling for a shot, hence a triple threat.

Prediction – I’m going to go with Batista. I’m going to have faith in my own fantasy booking. That’s probably misplaced confidence.

Edge v Jeff Hardy – Ladder match for the WWE Championship
This is the mouthwaterer for me. I want to see this match badly. I think it has the potential to be awesome. Great advertising in the build up with the promise that it’s the first ever singles ladder contest for these guys, considering they are so adept in the field.

Edge’s mannerisms, match pacing and storytelling ability make him a great champion, while Jeff’s high flying style should make this match very memorable indeed.

The question mark, I feel, is not over the quality, but over the winner. The rumours of Jeff Hardy’s departure should not be completely believed, but they have gone on for too long for them to be without substance. WWE can look at it two ways – throw great things at Jeff is one option. A title run and a massive push may convince him to commit and stay. If he leaves, you can look at it that you milked him before he upped sticks.

However, the last time he disappeared he then resurfaced in TNA. WWE would be wary of pushing him to the moon only to find him jumping to the competition, helping their cause.

So then, do you hold him back, and make sure you do not put him in any high-profile situations after this and ensure that he can’t ruin anything for you?

Well, we don’t know the contract situation, and neither should we, so it’s best we just sit back and take it in.

I have, in fairness, been quite short sighted in my appraisal of Smackdown’s ongoing feuds. I’ve put Rey with Umaga and Jericho with Punk, which doesn’t leave much room for manoeuvre on Edge and Jeff Hardy’s part. They can’t really go around again, since the Ladder match ought to be a blow off.

I really can’t call this, so what I’ll do is go for what I want to see deep down, and that’s Jeff win the title in his specialty match.

Prediction – Jeff Hardy. But moreover, I call a near-classic.

There’s my selections – enjoy the show! Don’t forget you can visit here again during the PPV and I will do my usual live blog.

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