This column is going to be a monthly feature going forward. I did this for WrestleMania two weeks before the show. The questions are from me. The answers are obviously from me.
This is different from the PPV preview that we do before the events because those are predictions of matches and what I think will happen. The questions in this column are more about the build up to the event as we head into the final week of television before Extreme Rules. There is still some predicting going on, but not that much. Is that simple enough to understand? I think so.
Here's a look at the lineup. I'll make a note of what matches are confirmed while also mentioning what matches are likely to take place.
WWE Champion John Cena vs. Ryback (Last Man Standing Match) - Confirmed
World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger (Triple Threat Ladder Match) - Confirmed
Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar (Steel Cage Match) - Confirmed
Sheamus vs. Mark Henry (Strap Match) - Confirmed (Stipulation confirmed by Sheamus on Twitter Wed night)
Randy Orton vs. Big Show - Likely
Tag Team Champions Kane & Daniel Bryan vs. The Shield - Likely
Chris Jericho vs. Fandango - Likely
Divas Champion Kaitlyn vs. AJ Lee - Likely
I'm pretty sure that Orton/Show is confirmed, but it's not on WWE.com yet (Wednesday 7pmET). Also since it's the Extreme Rules PPV that usually means stipulation matches. I'm not sure about the others yet. With four matches confirmed, plus the four others as likely that gives us a full eight match card.
Now that we've got all of that out of the way, here are the twenty questions and answers. They are not in any particular order.
1. What will be the best match?
I think it will be the three man ladder match. I enjoyed the Ziggler/Del Rio match on Raw. I think they have great chemistry. Del Rio and Swagger have built up a good rivalry with better matches each time they wrestle (a recent Smackdown match was better than WrestleMania for example). Swagger looks more impressive now than he did before WrestleMania because he's been able to stand out as the bigger guy out of these three men.
I also think the tag title match could be outstanding. Their six man matches have been very good, so as long as they get a decent amount of time (15 minutes or more) then I think Team Hell No will have an entertaining match against two members of The Shield.
2. How many new champions will there be?
Two. The Shield as tag champs and AJ Lee as Divas Champion. I think The Shield winning the tag titles is more likely. The tag title reign of Kane & Bryan has lasted over eight months now, which is very impressive. Assuming the match becomes official soon, I see The Shield leaving as tag team champions.
I think now is the right time to put the Divas Title on AJ Lee so that she has a title at the same time as Ziggler. That "golden couple" story works.
3. Who is the biggest lock to win their match?
Dolph Ziggler. They didn't build him up for seven years only to take the World Title off of him in his first pay-per-view title defense. I think they did a triple threat because they might have Del Rio gets a singles title shot at the following Payback PPV. They could also slot somebody like Sheamus or Randy Orton in that position.
4. If Triple H doesn't care that his "office" was destroyed, should you?
No you shouldn't. Triple H laughed off the office destruction by Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman. So why should we care? I understand that Triple H has the gimmick of the guy who is always strong and never scared, but at some point shouldn't you at least be angry? The idea is you want people to pay money to watch two guys fight that hate each other. If one of the guys is laughing off something that is supposed to gain heat then the crowd may not care about the match.
By the way, I had a few people ask me if that was really Triple H's office. No. It was about as real as the breasts of his wife. You're welcome.
5. Who should win the match between Brock Lesnar and Triple H?
Lesnar should win. Will he? I don't know. A lot of it depends on how they book their segment on Raw next week, which is advertised as a "face off" of some kind. We don't know how much either guy is going to wrestle in the next year. If Lesnar's on the same deal as last year then he'll only be on three PPVs over a twelve month period. With Triple H this is only his third televised match since August - all against Lesnar. If it was me Lesnar wins no question about it. You need to build him up as a heel monster that is tough to beat. Hunter's the babyface that is in a management position. He doesn't need wins.
As far as where Lesnar goes next, I have no idea. It depends how often he appears. It's hard to guess without knowing what kind of contract he has. If it's like last year then we have plenty of time to think about it before Summerslam.
6. How awesome has Paul Heyman been during this Brock Lesnar/Triple H feud?
Very awesome. I think he's been the best part of the build for a lot of reasons. When Triple H gave him the Pedigree the crowd loved it because they're not used to Heyman taking a bump. I thought Heyman was hilarious on Raw when he and Lesnar destroyed the office of Triple H. He did a lot of funny little things like humming the Fandango theme song and making smartass comments to people in the office. He is proof that managers can be very useful in terms of building angles on WWE TV.
7. Should we be worried about Dolph Ziggler's concussion?
We don't know all the details yet, so it's hard to say. The concussion was reported on WWE.com on Wednesday night. "All WWE talent that get diagnosed with a concussion are pulled from all matches until they can pass imPACT testing, so at this point he would be of all wrestling on all shows temporarily." That's from Wrestling Observer.
I believe imPACT testing is what pro sports teams use or something similar to that. If you can't pass the test you can't compete. WWE does take care of talents when these things happen. There are obviously degrees of concussion. Sometimes you can be out weeks. Sometimes months. More commonly it's about a week. It depends on the situation. The lovely Serena Deeb was out for over a year with a concussion. It's different for everybody.
Of course anything that's on WWE.com could be part of a storyline, but I believe in this case that's it's true. With Extreme Rules taking place in about 10 days let's hope that Ziggler is cleared a few days before that so that he can participate in the ladder match.
8. What match is more interesting: Randy Orton vs. Big Show or Mark Henry vs. Sheamus?
I like Henry vs. Sheamus more. Neither match is fresh or new. I remember Henry vs. Sheamus from two years ago, which was a fun feud in the summer. There's no Orton vs. Show match that sticks out to me, but since they've each been in WWE for over a decade they have wrestled many times before. I think Henry should go over Sheamus because they're going to need heel opponents for Cena and Henry seems like a good candidate for that. Both feuds are okay. Neither is great.
9. Randy Orton's heel turn has been rumored for many months. Is Extreme Rules the right time for it?
I don't think it will happen. It's a timing thing. At WrestleMania I thought it might happen with Orton turning on Sheamus, a babyface. How could he do it here? The best scenario to turn heel is attack somebody in a cheap manner and tag matches are the best way. I don't think it will happen in this match against Show. It doesn't feel like the right time to me.
10. Is Mark Henry worthy of a lot of praise due to his performances of late?
Yes he is. Henry has become a guilty pleasure wrestler for me. I don't really like his matches very much. What I like is his trash talk. I love how he yells out "that's what I do!" after he beats somebody up. It makes him look tough, but it's also unintentionally funny because I wonder if he said that when he knocked up Mae Young leading to the birth of their hand child. In all seriousness, he has credibility as a badass. That's why his trash talking works.
"THAT'S WHAT I DO!" I'd buy a t-shirt with that on it. I don't buy wrestling shirts, but I would in that case.
11. Do you like the direction of Fandango since WrestleMania?
No. I think it's been pretty bad. They had something with this guy especially the night after WrestleMania, but instead of putting him in matches every week and giving him wins that would help his credibility they have had him in a dance off and walking out on Raw last week against a midcarder like R-Truth. I understand that the idea of walking out on a match is supposed to get you heel heat, but he's already a heel. Why not cheat to win the match? He needs in-ring time so that he can get better reactions from the crowd. The booking has hurt him.
12. Since Extreme Rules is on May 19, should we remember Kane's storyline about that date?
Yes we should! It was hilarious. Will WWE mention it? I doubt it. The short version of the story is that Kane's movie See No Evil came on May 19, 2006, so they did a storyline where he was haunted by the date because that's the day his mother and adopted family died. So whenever somebody said the date he would beat them up. Here's a Kane promo about it:
I doubt WWE is going to reference it, but it's something of a cult celebration day for online wrestling fans for the past seven years. The story was so silly that we have kept its memory alive forever. Any time I hear the date of May 19 I think of this storyline, so obviously the angle worked in that sense. Also See No Evil was one of WWE's most profitable movies ever with a budget of $8 million and it made over $15 million.
13. If The Shield wins the tag team titles should they use the Freebird rule after?
Absolutely. If you don't know what the Freebird rule is, basically it allows any two members of the three member team to defend the titles. I think it will be a lot of fun to see something like that in 2013 because it's been a while since that was used (Spirit Squad). I think Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose are the best two members of the group in terms of in-ring action, but Roman Reigns has done a very good job too. Plus he yells a lot. That's important.
For what it's worth, I don't see WWE adding a fourth member of The Shield any time soon. It's not necessary. Three is good.
14. Will we find out who Kaitlyn's secret admirer is at Extreme Rules?
I don't think so. They could do something that distracts her by having somebody run to the ring to deliver flowers while the match is going on and AJ Lee capitalizes to win the title. There's no point in rushing the angle. It's only been a few weeks. Let it play out a bit more. I think the secret admirer will the reason Kaitlyn loses the Divas Title, though. It's just a matter of how they book it. The good thing is at least they have a storyline. A lot of Divas Title feuds have poor storylines.
How about that reaction by ref Charles Robinson? Lil Naitch rules!
15. Any idea who Kaitlyn's secret admirer is?
I'm not sure, but I think they might reveal that it's a woman that is doing this. It could be a situation where AJ is the one doing it to mess with Kaitlyn because as her former best friend she knows what Kaitlyn likes (Simpsons, type of flowers, etc.). It could be somebody new like Paige of NXT, who has really impressed a lot of people.
It could also be Natalya, who is acting as Kaitlyn's friend during all of these segments when in fact she could be a mean woman who hides behind the comedy of Khali to get information. That would be too good of an angle that would make me happy, though, so I'm not going with that. I don't think I'm allowed to be happy with how WWE books these women.
For the record, yes I feel weird as a 32 year old man writing about "secret admirers" on a wrestling show. Pass the Jack Daniels, please.
16. Any chance we see CM Punk at Extreme Rules?
There's always a chance because he works for WWE, but I don't think it will happen yet. My prediction is that he returns at July's Money in the Bank PPV or the night after. That way it sets up his in-ring return for Summerslam. If he sits out for 3-4 months it will allow his body to rest up. If he wants to return before that then I'm all for it. I think he's the best performer in WWE, so of course I want him back. If I had to guess I'll say around Summerslam. Heel or face? I hope heel. He's better in that role.
17. If the plan was for Ryback to get a WWE Title shot at Extreme Rules, why did he lose to Mark Henry at WrestleMania?
I didn't understand the booking decision then. I don't understand it now. I can see it as something where WWE felt like they need some heels to get wins at WrestleMania because there were a lot of babyface wins. Also I'm sure they think that because Ryback attacked Henry post match it was okay to lose since he got his heat back right away. If you know he's going to main event the next PPV why have him lose? I don't get it. The last PPV win by Ryback was in July 2012 at Money in the Bank. I know he had some losses that weren't clean, but that win could have helped him at WrestleMania.
18. What are the chances of Ryback leaving as the WWE Champion?
I think he has a very slim chance of winning the WWE Title. I know that John Cena has a heel injury, but that doesn't mean they are going to take the title off of him. If you think Cena's only going to have a one month WWE Title reign you are wrong. They kept the title off of him for nearly two years and it would be foolish to cut his title reign short.
19. But what if John Cena's foot injury worsens. Will he still hold the WWE Title?
If it worsens then he might lose it. However, all indications are that his foot is improving and as long as he's in a position where he can avoid surgery they'll keep the WWE Title on him. I don't see Ryback as a long term opponent. He's just the guy that Cena can beat at this PPV and possibly the next one too. Hopefully he won't use duct tape for the finish.
20. How excited are you about Extreme Rules on a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being low, 10 being high)?
I'd say about a 6 out of 10. I don't mind the matches on the card that much. The main event doesn't excite me very much at all, but there are other matches that have the potential to be great like the ladder match and the tag team title match.
That was fun to write. Hope you enjoyed it. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact me using any of the methods below. I respond to all emails pretty much except for 5,000 word rants about fantasy booking so don't be shy about writing to me. Thanks for reading.