WrestleMania is pretty much WWE’s version of a season finale. Feuds are settled, journeys have culminated, teasers are dished out for next season and sometimes a well-established character will walk off into the sunset.
On the post-WrestleMania Raw – one of the most anticipated nights on the WWE calendar – traditionally new stars are introduced, new challengers emerge for titles and legends are paid tribute to. It is WWE’s way of hitting reset and starting afresh.
This year, however, you’d be forgiven for thinking WWE has hit the “rewind” button instead of “reset”. Extreme Rules sees the return of veterans Rob Van Dam and Evolution to the PPV scene; the Daniel Bryan and Kane feud has been resurrected again; and the Cena v Wyatt feud continues to rage. The only newcomer we have is Paige… and she’s already the champ!
It is a busy card though, and it looks like a lot of action will be crammed in to the broadcast. Now that each PPV event will serve as temptation to viewers to sign up to the WWE Network, you’d expect Vince and co to strive in delivering a product that ejaculates awesomeness. Let’s see how they cope with the first big event of WWE’s calendar year.
Wanna know my picks? Of course you do…
WeeLC PRE SHOW BOUT
El Torito vs Hornswoggle
Oh wow! A sanctioned “little person” match! It feels like we’ve stepped 30 years into the past!
Regardless of the outcome of this match, I think we can all agree that the real winner will be the audience, as this is certain to be a comedy masterpiece. I expect to see at least four groin related impact moves as 3MB and Los Matadores interfere, and this, combined with sound of Michael Cole’s fake laughter at the commentary desk, will surely be enough to send everyone at home into hysterical convulsions.
I’ve heard some bookmakers are offering odds of 3/1 that Vince McMahon literally coughs up one of his testicles whilst laughing so hard at this match. It’s definitely a bet that I’ll be taking.
I’ll pick El Torito for the victory just because he’s really bouncy.
Oh, and “WeeLC”? That’s beyond genious.
Pick: El Torito
2 on 1 HANDICAP MATCH
Alexander Rusev vs R-Truth and Xavier Woods
This gets on the card but The Usos vs Rybaxel doesn’t?! That’s pretty harsh.
It seems Rusev is getting a similar monster-sized push that the Ryback character received when he debuted a couple of years ago, and it’s easy to understand why. This guy is an absolute brick shit-house of a man, and yet he has the grace and speed that so often evades his weight-category counterparts.
I think 2014 is going to be a big year for Rusev. Once he’s fully established as a serious player, he can surely look forward to losing to Cena on PPVs later in the year!
It’ll surely be a swift victory in squash fashion for the Conrad on this night. Not even a Little Jimmy run-in could save Truth and Woods.
Pick: Alexander Rusev
TRIPLE THREAT MATCH
Rob Van Dam vs Cesaro vs Jack Swagger
I don’t think it’s a controversial opinion to state that this bout should be rather awesome. Swagger and Cesaro particularly are two guys who seem to be at the absolute top of their game at the moment, and Rob Van Dam still has the ability to flatter should the occasion call for it.
I wonder if Rob Van Dam could still do his thumb-pointing thing whilst he’s in the Cesaro swing? That’s a spot I’d love to see!
Cesaro is the latest Paul Heyman Guy, as well as the newly crowned “King of Swing”, so he has to be favourite for the victory here. With Evolution currently busy with The Shield, could Cesaro sneak in as the next contender to Bryan’s title? It’s definitely a match I’d pay to see.
But rather than go for the favourite, I’m anticipating a surprise Swagger win here. Cesaro is well on his way to superstardom whilst Swagger is in danger of becoming the forgotten man (again). A win here could serve to show Swagger and Zeb still have relevancy on the roster – and if RVD takes the pin it’ll do Cesaro no harm.
Pick: Jack Swagger
DIVAS TITLE MATCH
Paige vs Tamina Snuka
The above picture to promote this match is unsettling… Shouldn’t the champ always be on the left?! Anyhoooo, like several hundred thousand people have likely already pointed out… Having Paige win the Divas Title on her RAW debut was really stinky booking.
Firstly, it significantly cheapens the title when someone can pin a long reigning champ on their very first night in WWE. Secondly, Paige is 21 years old with, presumably, a long career still ahead of her. But having already won the Divas Title on her debut, she already has nothing left to achieve! The only way from here is down.
Paige will retain and win cleanly here – likely after withstanding a severe beating from Lady Snuka. That’s the way WWE seems to enjoy booking her at the mo.
Pick: Paige retains
IC TITLE MATCH
Big E vs Bad News Barrett
Kudos to Barrett. He was floating on the boundary of “nobody cares about you” just a few months ago. But he’s made the “Bad New” gimmick work (which I admittedly assumed was gonna flop horribly) and his catchphrase and promo delivery have gotten well over with wrestling audiences. It’s also plain to see how much enjoyment he gets out of playing the character, and that enjoyment is hugely infectious. So hooray for infections.
Big E, on the other hand, is really suffering from a lack of gimmick. He certainly has the look to guarantee himself long-term employment with WWE, but he’s struggling to form a genuine connection with fans. I don’t fully blame that on him though – he hardly ever gets the opportunity to talk anymore (he’s spent pretty much all of the current IC tournament standing backstage motionless as he watches on a monitor), and on the odd occasion he does join the commentary team, he just spouts routine babyface soundbites that he’s presumably been instructed to say. I want to see more of the Big E who delivered that awesome sportcaster promo back when he was buddies with Dolph Ziggler – and I’m sure everyone else does too.
Vince, like the majority of us, is reportedly high on the Bad News Barrett character and so I foresee him picking up the win and the title here. And hopefully the loss proves to be an impetus for some iota of development in Big E’s character.
Pick: Bad News Barrett
STEEL CAGE MATCH
John Cena v Bray Wyatt
The build up to this has been great. I’ll happily confess I adored the opening segment on RAW this week, with Bray Wyatt leading a chorus of kids through a rendition of “He’s Got The Whole World”, punctuated with the donning of sheep masks. Cena’s reactions were truly hysterical and make it an absolute hoot to watch!
The commentators have tried to install some sort of deeper meaning into this cage match, suggesting that the cage is symbolic in keeping Bray Wyatt’s evil thoughts locked away from the rest of the world. Or something. It’s all a bit weird. This is pro wrestling, not English literature studies.
I think Wyatt badly needs the win here. He’s undoubtedly one of the hottest prospects WWE has, and to hand him consecutive PPV losses would be not just damaging to his progress up the ladder but also pretty damn mean too. It’s not as if Cena needs the victory.
So I’m picking (and ‘hoping’) that Wyatt wins here, and this feud will require a rubber match at the Payback PPV next month. As long as they keep delivering segments as entertaining as the aforementioned one on RAW this week I’m all for it!
A Cena heel turn has (finally) been hinted at, with him acknowledging the crowd are getting behind Wyatt. Whilst I don’t believe that’s ever going to happen, it certainly adds intrigue to what happens next.
Pick: Bray Wyatt
SIX MAN TAG
The Shield vs Evolution
Had Batista’s return gone to plan back in January, I fully believe he’d be WWE champion now and would be defending his title in a rematch against Randy Orton in this Extreme Rules PPV. Of course, fan power put an end to that happening, and instead we find ourselves here… An Evolution reunion.
I don’t believe it’s something that fans were crying out for, but at least (for WWE) it keeps Batista relevant. And “the old guard vs the new school” is a tried and tested formula in wrestling.
With HHH, Randy Orton and Batista all suffering losses of late (all to Daniel Bryan incidentally!), I’m leaning towards them picking up the victory. If Evolution is to be once again recognised as a powerful force, then it doesn’t really serve much sense to have them lose their first match (in 9 years!) since reforming. There will be plenty more matches to come from this feud though.
EXTREME RULES – WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH
Daniel Bryan vs Kane
Evolution vs The Shield is obviously the biggest match of the night, but regardless, I really hope this one goes on last. The WWE Title is the biggest prize there is in pro-wrestling and shouldn’t play second fiddle to anything. CM Punk suffered the indignity of only headlining a handful of PPVs during his record-breaking run as champ and I’ll be super-pissed if Daniel Bryan suffers the same fate.
After 17 years with the company, it’s fantastic that Kane can still step into the World Title picture when called upon without fans questioning it. He’s been an incredible asset to the company over the last couple of decades and certainly deserves a big ass send-off when he finally decides to hang up the mask for good.
With that said, nobody will be picking a Kane victory here. I’m sure the former tag team champs will put on an entertaining match, but Bryan will surely score the victory (with the “Extreme Rules” stipulation presumably allowing for an outlandish stunt finish) in his first title defence. I’d bet my spleen on it.
Pick: Daniel Bryan retains
Those are my picks jabronis, please add your own below. I love it when you do.
I’ll be attending the WWE Smackdown tapings at the London O2 Arena in a couple of week’s time, so will return with a full report of my jaunt soon. Unless I forget how to write between now and then.
Over and out.