By Mike Aires
We are fast approaching the Extreme Rules pay-per-view this Sunday, which happens to take place in the same month that WrestleMania happened. Three weeks of build towards their next pay-per-view, of which…most of the matches are a form of a rematch from WrestleMania. This month has been pretty loaded with fallout from WrestleMania, good storylines, surprise returns, and new debuts. However all of it seems numbing. It all is kind of “meh”. I find myself trying to care about these feuds or new characters, or get excited for upcoming feuds and matches, but there seems to be a “glass-half empty” look at a lot of the card moving forward…when honestly, there should not be.
I think I have the WrestleMania Hangover.
Before you say “that’s not real”, I consulted both Dr. Pepper and Dr. Horrible today, and they both assured me that it is a real condition that many pro wrestling fans suffer from. Symptoms include (but are not limited to): irritability, irrational behavior, lack of faith, and worst of all, Punk Boringitis. It’s a serious illness but I am working through it. One of the ways I am doing so is writing this column for you, my loyal readers. It helps with the healing process.
So what caused this WrestleMania-induced illness? That may never be known, but there are certain aspects of the WWE that could have played a hand in some of the early stages of this terrible infection.
First off, the Road to WrestleMania usually has some of the strongest writing we get from the creative team. It’s like their “Sweeps Week”. They have had ideas for months, and the foundations have already been put down. They hunker down, and create compelling stories that will last the first quarter of the year. I previously talked about how basically every match at WrestleMania 28 had a back story, which creates a certain atmosphere and excitement surrounds that match, and that feud in general. But I always loved WrestleMania as the big finale to a feud. Not just another match. As I said earlier, a good chunk of the matches we will see Sunday are rematches from WrestleMania. There’s a big sense of “been there, done that” to me.
Secondly, these same feuds that are being pushed through WrestleMania and to Extreme Rules (and possibly even further) are rehashing the same stuff over and over again. It’s gotten to the point that I just don’t care. I don’t care that Kane and Orton go back and forth torturing each other and each other’s fathers. I don’t care that Jericho finds history on CM Punk’s family, and then starts attacking him and attempts to make him drink. Big Show had embarrassing moments before WrestleMania 28, then wins, and then says Cody Rhodes was embarrassed, and now Rhodes attacks Big Show. It’s all just super repetitive to me. Even Cena’s new feud with the returning Brock Lesnar (we’ll get to him later) seems like the same stuff he went through with CM Punk or The Rock. Hell, Lesnar had a sit down with an authority figure and made demands on his contract…Punk did the exact same thing 6 months ago. It just seems like the Creative Team, after WrestleMania, said “Ok, we did our job. This shit will write itself for a month or two. Let’s go to the Bahamas!”
Hell, a perfect example is this past Monday’s CM “Drunk” and Chris Jericho confrontations that saw Punk act all incoherent and drunk at a public field sobriety test, just to fake it so he could beat Jericho’s ass. These two guys are two of my top 5 or 6 wrestlers of all time. Yet I found myself nodding off watching that segment, and a lot of the previous week’s segments where Jericho keeps trying to get Punk to embrace the hate…cohol. Seems like the same story played out years prior between CM Punk and JBL. But the fact that I can find two wrestlers who I admire boring is scary. I am still looking forward to their match at Extreme Rules because I love watching both of them in the ring (plus Chicago will blow the roof off for that match), but the fact that I find anything by those guys mundane is as bad as it gets for me.
We are also coming off a full-blown Rock comeback. He was showing up every week for Raw, he was making us laugh, and he was going toe-to-toe on the mic each week with John Cena. It gave Monday Night Raw a “must-see” vibe, and was making John Cena the most interesting he had been in months. Both guys were bringing the best out of each other, and it was fantastic. The day after WrestleMania, Rock basically makes a “farewell, but I’ll be back soon” speech at the top of the show, which was followed by the return of Brock Lesnar at the bottom. Seeing Lesnar back and F5 the hell out of Cena was pure bliss, don’t get me wrong, but since then my excitement has lessened. He just does not give me the same excitement level like when Rock came back, or even when guys like Edge, Christian, Jericho, or other “big name” guys from the past decade come back from hiatus or injury. On top of his return, they’ve been bringing countless new guys in, even though they have not gone through and done their annual roster cut yet.
Dean Ambrose, Antonio Cesaro, Ryback, Lord Tensai, Brodus Clay (and his two dancers), and to a lesser extent Darren Young and Titus O’ Neil have all either debuted or (in the case of Ambrose) been in the limelight in the past couple months. Yet we have plenty of extremely talented and well deserved wrestlers low down on the card or on the injured list. Now, with the looming start of the WWE Network, the company may be trying to keep their roster up so that they can have a few shows over on the Network (like the rumored, damn near confirmed Cruiserweight show they are planning). That being said, when they basically have stopped separating the brands, it is hard to give a damn about anyone when they concentrate half of the shows on the top 3 or 4 heels and faces. Guys like Miz, who headlined WrestleMania 27 (ask him, he’ll tell you all about it), is now fighting in the dark match at this Sunday’s Extreme Rules pay-per-view.
So the question remains, is this all in my head, or could this be something serious? It’s probably a little from column A, and a bit from column B. This year (leading all the way up to WrestleMania 29) is going to be extremely weird for the WWE, and we need do our best as fans to be supportive and ready for what they throw at us. Just this month I mentioned how one of the major factors in this year’s WrestleMania’s success was due to the fact that the matches all had back stories. Yet here I am complaining that those same stories are still being unraveled in front of us. Let’s let these things go and enjoy them. Off the heels of their most successful WrestleMania ever, the WWE is going to do their best to take what worked and continue it. That means pushing new guys, bringing back older guys like Brock, Jericho, Rock, and possibly, eventually, Austin. However all of this is happening while the company tries to launch their biggest test to date: the WWE Network. With that comes new programming and a slew of new wrestlers.
All of these changes are coming fast and furious, and my feeble mind cannot handle them all. Even though the matches at Extreme Rules this weekend are mostly rematches from WrestleMania, there have been plenty of changes set in motion. Let’s hope I can just take a step back and take all of this in before this WrestleMania hangover takes over the entire month of April. There actually are some good, intriguing matchups at Extreme Rules this weekend. The two co-main events should be fun and the crowd should do only what Chicago can do…which is be animalistic.
So speaking of Extreme Rules, let’s take a quick look at the announced card:
Big Show (c) vs. Cody Rhodes for the IC Title – the first of several WM28 rematches. I expect Big Paulie to retain after Rhodes continually tries to beat him down to no avail. The stipulation that was eventually added could make the match more interesting, but I do not see Rhodes getting the title back just three weeks after losing it.
Santino (c) vs. The Miz for the US Title – It’s a YouTube dark match. Miz should win, but he will not. This just got thrown together for no reason. It’s ridiculous how far Miz has fallen in the last few months.
Kane vs. Randy Orton in a Falls Count Anywhere Match – Their match at WM28 was not terrible, and with the chance for this to turn brutal, it could end up being enjoyable. I expect Orton to win this time since Kane won clean last time. Maybe a frozen Paul Bearer gets wheeled out at some point.
Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan in 2 Out of 2 Falls – As much as I would love it, I just do not see them taking the strap off Sheamus. Bryan will win a fall, Sheamus will win one, and then he’ll take the final one. At least there is a good chance this match takes longer than 18 seconds this time. But is Sheamus walking out as the WCW Champ? YES! YES! YES!
Nikki Bella (c) vs. Beth Phoenix for the Divas Title – Beth will be selling her injury, and Nikki is just counting down the hours until she is destroyed by a returning Kharma. Beth will have the title again at some point, but Kharma is closer to being champion than she is. Question remains if the Bellas resigned or not. Guess we will find out Sunday or Monday.
CM Punk (c) vs. Chris Jericho in a Chicago Street Fight – This could be as good if not better than their WrestleMania match. The Chicago crowd is always full of marks so I expect both of these guys to have tons of fans, but Chicago’s favorite child will win and blow the roof off the building, especially if they start fighting out in the crowd or outside the building.
Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena in an Extreme Rules Match – Lesnar’s first match back is a hardcore match? They need him to destroy Cena. They don’t need a long, back-and-forth match between the two, nor do they need Cena to kip up and make a comeback at the end. They need Lesnar to destroy him. If not, then they just paid Lesnar a ton of money for no reason.
There you have it. The card is predictable, but has some good matchups. Will my hangover be cured before the pay-per-view, or will I watch it with a bored, uninterested look on my face? Time will tell.
What do you guys think about the status of the “E” since WrestleMania? Are you excited about Extreme Rules? What predictions do you have? Comment and let us know, or you can hit me up on twitter and we can pretend to be friends.
Also, remember to check out Headlines each and every Tuesday with Fozzie (@FozzieMB) and myself as we discuss news from the previous couple days. Sometimes we have awesome things to discuss, and other times it is TNA related. You can’t always pick winners.