We're just a few days away from Extreme Rules, the first WWE pay-per-view (PPV) event after WrestleMania 29, taking place at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri on May 19, 2013.
Last week, I took a look at the top half of the card (read it here), which included the first four matches announced for this weekend's pro wrestling extravaganza, to see if it was indeed living up to its "Extreme" moniker. Today, I'll examine the bottom half to try to figure out if WWE has upped the ante.
Or jumped the shark.
United States Champion Kofi Kingston vs. Dean Ambrose:
I don't think even the most jaded fan can be blase about this championship contest. Sure, the U.S. title is meaningless, but this is a match that can steal the show.
I understand why Kofi Kingston gets heat for his botchy in-ring work, but he doesn't get enough credit for the things he can do. I, for one, find him entertaining and his high-flying, high-impact style means a ton of selling by Dean Ambrose.
Add to that the anticipation of Deenie holding the strap and I have a very hard time finding any downside to this bout. You want to argue that The Shield shouldn't be split up, even for one night? Come and talk to me when a chopper drops them off on RAW with three titles around their waists.
Divide and conquer!
WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No vs. The Shield's Reigns and Rollins (Tag Team Tornado Match):
This really is a fantastic tag team contest because Reigns and Rollins are essentially the evil versions of Team Hell No. Rollins is undersized for a WWE superstar, but is smooth as silk inside the ring and can hold his own with the best of them.
I can't wait to see him go toe-to-toe with Daniel Bryan.
Likewise, Roman Reigns is basically Roman Kanes. Big, brooding badass with a couple of trademarked power moves and some nifty airtime when required. I know they'll switch dance partners early and often, but if we can at least have a few minutes of HOSS FIGHTING, than I will tune out a happy man.
Considering the stipulation is basically a tagless free-for-all, I'd say the chances are pretty high.
I've been okay with Team Hell No dropping the straps for a while now and if it's done in conjunction with a Dean Ambrose U.S. title victory -- with the intent to further elevate The Shield -- then it's got my vote. If they come up empty in both bouts and lose all their heat, I'll be throwing tomatoes at my Sony flat screen.
Believe in The Shield.
Randy Orton vs. Big Show (Extreme Rules Match):
Randy Orton is boring. Randy Orton in
a hardcore an "Extreme Rules" match against Big Show is still boring. Is it too much to ask of "The Viper" to at least try to look like he gives a damn during the match? Maniacally staring at the crowd before hitting the RKO is not "engaging."
For as large as he is and as long as he's been around, Big Show still gets it done. Part of the problem for me is that this feud has been cobbled together from the spare parts leftover from the Sheamus love-triangle days. With no title implications and nothing more than, "He's mad at you and wants to fight you" as motivation, this match is a take it-or-leave it for me.
It doesn't elevate the PPV -- and I understand that not every match has to -- but watching these two veterans rummage through the toy box of foreign objects has too much of a "been there, done that" feel to it. Unless they recreate that garbage can lid spot where Steve Blackman held it up and Big Show punched him right through it.
Ah, the good old days.
Chris Jericho vs. Fandango:
Whether you like Fandango or hate him, or just sing along to his entrance music, there is no denying he's done the unthinkable, and that's create a character worth paying attention to. Part of the credit lies with the talent of Johnny Curtis, who took an awful gimmick and played it straight.
The other part goes to Chris Jericho.
Y2J bit the bullet and recognized this was an opportunity to turn water into wine. We're not quite there just yet, but we sure are a hell of a lot farther along than I thought we would be just be a few months ago. It's also placed perfectly on the card (for now), jerking the curtain while the audience is still fresh.
And that damn song...
I think fans will be a lot more receptive to Fandango -- or at least hold up their end of the bargain and boo the shit out of him -- if they haven't already been burned out by some of the longer matches on the card, like the "I Quit" dance between Jack Swagger and Alberto Del Rio.
This is a worthy edition to the PPV. Not exactly "extreme," but still worthy.
The Miz vs. Cody Rhodes (Pre-Show):
Antonio Cesaro can't even make it onto the pre-show.
Well Cagesiders, I'm not ready to call this a "must-buy," but I think WWE has done an admirable job of balancing Extreme Rules with a variety of matches and when I look at this card from top to bottom, I think the good outweighs the bad. The Shield is a big part of the reason why and the decision to split them up is almost like having them twice in one night.
I went from definitely not buying to probably buying.
Losing Dolph Ziggler still hurts, but not enough to cripple the entire card. We still have Smackdown! tomorrow night to tie up any loose ends (read the spoilers here if you can't wait) and while I haven't read any of the outcomes, I'm sure it will be riddled with replays and tag team matches that tease Sunday's big shebang.
So ... who's buying?