We're just over a week 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.
Are you feeling the buzz?
The great thing about WWE is the strength of its brand. So even if the card is littered with tepid feuds and tired retreads, they can bank on a certain number of people tuning in, just because it's a monthly WWE PPV. You know, suckers like me, who have kids.
As for the rest of you, who either blew your wad on last month's big show, or those parents with the ability to say no and go to sleep with a clear conscience, you may consider skipping this one. I can't say I blame you, based on what's being offered.
And they only have one RAW and two Smackdowns to try to close the deal.
But the more I look at the line up, which as of this writing only consists of just four bouts, the more I'm willing to give it a fair shake. I can look at each match and make a legitimate case for it tearing the house down.
Or stinking the place up.
WWE Champion John Cena vs. Ryback (Last Man Standing Match):
This wasn't a terrible idea. What was terrible, was the execution. Ryback was over as a face because he was able to hit a few big power moves and get the fans to chant along with his dopey catchphrase. In addition, creative didn't make the full commitment on his heel turn.
He's evil because he wants to beat up John Cena? That would make most of the IWC heel.
Their backstory is so thin you could floss with it and Ryback needed more time under the lamp to develop as a heel. I don't mind a slow build, nor do I mind a dramatic turn. It's this in-between shit that makes the character hard to connect to.
For me, that's part of the reason I can't get into this bout.
It also doesn't have a strong gimmick, all things considered. Extreme Rules means you have some kind of wacky stipulation for each bout and that's part of the appeal, but Last Man Standing? Between a tumescent meathead and a guy with five moves of doom?
Don't play the rest hold drinking game -- you'll be shitfaced by the first ref count.
Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar (Steel Cage Match):
Brock Lesnar is still a star (proof). It's futile to resist. But even with his ability to draw eyeballs (including mine), this is a road we've already been down. Twice. I think the steel cage will definitely elevate this contest and there is a part of me still wondering how the finish will go down.
Not that it's a marketable selling point.
There has also been a lot of groaning over Lesnar's infrequent appearances, but I think it helps bump up the interest level when he does finally make it into the ring, because it has a special feel to it, like "Hey, this is something we only see a handful of times each year." Imagine Brock hulking up on top of the cage?
I just wish it was against someone else.
World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger (Triple Threat Ladder Match):
I'm a fan of Dolph Ziggler, but I don't consider him to be in my personal top five. That said, I try to watch every match he's in just because he's such an exceptional worker. Honestly, if you told me Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger had pulled out and Dolph was going to wrestle the ladders instead, I would still tune in.
That's how good he is at selling.
But now we have that ominous cloud lingering over the show. Ziggy was concussed during a Smackdown taping less than two weeks before the show (details). I'm sure they will protect him at the upcoming RAW, but I have to wonder how many crazy spots we'll see come showtime.
Del Rio has a history of concussions, as well.
If our only hope is to have Jack Swagger step up and carry the load, we're doomed. He's making an effort and has a great mouthpiece, but clomping around the ring like Jason Voorhees at Camp Crystal Lake is not exactly the best way to get over.
WE. THE PEOPLE (will not tune in).
Sheamus vs. Mark Henry (Strap Match):
There's going to come a point in this match when Sheamus starts whipping Mark Henry with a strap. I am going to try very hard to ignore the symbolism here, as it hearkens back to one of the more disgusting eras in the history of our country.
Maybe it's supposed to. With Vince at the helm, you just never know.
Anyway, if I ignore the stipulation and look at this as a straight-up HOSS FIGHT, there's very little to complain about. Sheamus earned his stripes, literally, last Monday night on RAW (see the pic here) and while Henry is an extremely limited worker, he still has an incredible presence and knows how to play the heel.
And take a bump.
That said, I think this can be a fun slobberknocker and it's one of the better supporting bouts on this card, if they use the strap stipulation sparingly. I was disappointed with how the Henry/Ryback feud fizzled and died, but I think that memory gets erased with a solid match here.
That's it from me, Cagesiders.
WWE has faced a few obstacles in trying to get this card together and I think they've gone 2-4 with a few bouts still to be announced. How do you think this card is shaping up and more importantly, will you be ordering it?