The period after WrestleMania tends to be a bit of a wasteland for WWE. I don’t mean that their programming revolves around Wade Barrett finishing maneuvers. I mean that it usually sucks. The pay-per-view after WrestleMania usually tends to be pretty good, but it’s somewhat downhill after that. Take a look at Over The Limit and Capitol Punishment from last year. These were the shows that WWE ran in May and June 2011, respectively. These two shows were among the worst reviewed as well as least purchased shows of the year. Why is that?
Over The Limit suffered from a main event that everybody knew the outcome of beforehand. There was no way that The Miz was going to best John Cena in an “I Quit” match. The undercard was also exceptionally bad, with stinkers like Brie Bella and Kelly Kelly fighting rolling-up over the Diva’s Championship, not to mention the third match in a row involving Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler. In addition to the predictability of the main event, most people hated the booking and the match itself, which saw The Miz endlessly torture John Cena before Cena made his super duper comeback to win.
Capitol Punishment didn’t fare much better. I attended the event live and actually quite enjoyed it, but I was in the minority. This event suffered from a predictable main event once again. Nobody believed that R-Truth could possibly beat Cena for the title. It had “transitional feud” written all over it. The buildup to the match was only saved by the awesome job that R-Truth did with that character. Other than that, you had Randy Orton taking on Christian, which was a fantastic series of matches but people might have been tired of watching them by that point. The rest of the undercard was a lot of matches and feuds that were negatively received, such as Alex Riley vs. The Miz, Alberto Del Rio vs. Big Show, and a bunch of crap involving The Corre.
Why do I point all of this out to you? Because it looks like the WWE is finally realizing that they need to step up their game with the early summer pay-per-views in order to keep the momentum from WrestleMania and its aftermath going. So far, this Over The Limit card is looking very strong. There are currently four matches scheduled, and we can probably expect two more to be added in next week’s set of programs. First off, there’s the match that I presume will be the main event. If it’s not, then shame on WWE. I am of course talking about CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship. There are not enough good things I can say about this matchup, so I’ll just leave it at that I am extremely happy for these two men. They are two guys who most people said would not make it in WWE. Now they are having a match for the most important title in the business (unless you include “Being John Cena” as a title).
Besides me being happy about this match, what’s the significance? It’s a main event that pretty much all fans will want to see. It goes without saying that the Internet fans are overjoyed by this match, and they will all be watching as long as they can find a clean pair of underwear. It remains to be seen if they will actually buy the show or just download it. If they really want to support these two guys, fans everywhere should pay for this show. I know I will be, as I want to do my part to ensure that Punk and Bryan don’t wind up the scapegoats for low buyrates. Casual fans will want to see this as well. The “YES!” chants and signs continue to infiltrate WWE live events, which shows how over Bryan is getting, and of course people love the Cookie Monster Punk.
The point is that this year’s Over The Limit has a fantastic main event that should appeal to fans on all levels, and it will also deliver the goods in terms of quality. That is something that the WWE often misses out on when it comes to booking events in this time period. Of course, a main event alone isn’t enough. The importance of the undercard should never be overlooked. Look again at what I said about Over The Limit and Capitol Punishment from last year. Notice anything in common? They both had undercards that people didn’t care about. WWE seems to be changing that this year. You could actually make a case that this upcoming show has a triple main event, which is something we don’t often see with PPV events outside of the big three. However, I’m going to lump the next two matches in the undercard because 1) How often is the World Heavyweight Championship truly treated like a main event? and 2) Even with John Cena on one side, a match with John Laurinaitis in it is more of a special attraction and not a main event. WWE has made the WHC match very interesting all of a sudden. When it was just Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio, I thought it would be an okay match. Both are good, hard-hitting workers. However, Sheamus bores me as a face and ADR has just a tiny fraction of the interest from me than he did when he first debuted. With the addition of Randy Orton and Chris Jericho this past Monday, WWE made the match infinitely more appealing. Now you have four good workers in one match and an air of unpredictability about it. The storyline should be more entertaining now that you’ve thrown a great talker into the mix as well. Kudos to WWE for turning what would have been a good match with an okay feud into a potentially great match with a feud that could also be great.
As for John Cena vs. John Laurinaitis, it won’t be any kind of technical masterpiece. It may not even be a “good match” by many people’s terms. It may be an overbooked clusterfuck. However, it will be entertaining, that much I’m sure of. Big Johnny was an accomplished wrestler back in the day and started training for this recently, so it should already be better than the Michael Cole matches we got last year. As I said earlier, this is a special attraction match of sorts. There are people who will buy the event to watch this, which I know sounds weird. I think this type of match intrigues people enough to make them want to see it. Big Johnny has shown he can be absolutely vicious when he wants to be. Some people will be curious to see how he goes after Cena in the ring, and some people will just want to see Cena go nuts on his boss. It’s a different kind of match than we’re used to seeing, but one that should have a lot of intrigue surrounding it.
I’ll touch briefly on the other match scheduled for the show, which is Beth Phoenix vs. Layla for the Divas Championship. I won’t try to say that anybody buys a pay-per-view to watch a Diva match, because they don’t. However, this is still one of the better matches that WWE could choose to put on right now. Beth Phoenix is obviously Beth Phoenix and is one of the most talented Divas in the company. Layla is a decent female worker who can have a good match with somebody better than her. If we’re going to get a Diva match on pay-per-view, it might as well be this one.
My point in all this is that WWE has crafted a successful undercard for Over The Limit, in my opinion. You have a title match full of star power and potential to be a great wrestling match. You have a match that has a lot of intrigue for the storylines and the potential to be a fun mess. And you have a Diva’s title match that is good for what it is. Add to that a potential tag team title match that could involve several talented guys, as well as one other match that remains to be seen, and we’re looking at a pretty solid show. If you compare all of this with last year’s show at this time, it looks infinitely better, at least on paper. If this is something WWE can keep up for the next few months into more interesting shows like Money in the Bank and Summerslam, then we’re looking at what could be a great year of programming for WWE.
One other thing I like that WWE is doing is that they’re still keeping us guessing. They are still creating surprises for us. Despite this Monday’s show being rather lackluster, I don’t think there was anybody who thought Paul Heyman would be coming to the ring (well until @CMPunk ruined it). This type of surprise is usually something that happens before a more important pay-per-view. It’s nice to see it happen now as it tells the viewers that anything can happen at any time.
I want to believe that WWE is truly trying to produce quality shows year-round rather than focusing only on boom periods. I hope that they can continue what they are doing now and make the rest of 2012 a successful year full of fun and surprises. I’ll be purchasing Over The Limit when it comes around, and I hope I can say the same for next month as well. Keep up the good work, WWE!
What do you think of Over The Limit this year as compared to pay-per-views of this time period in past years? Can WWE rid itself of “The WrestleMania Hangover?” Tell us what you think! Don’t be afraid to comment because we use Facebook now. I created a separate account just to use for comments, so that’s always an option for you. You can always email me, and please follow me on Twitter as well. Until next time, thanks for reading.