Friday 20 May 2011

Over the Limit preview

Just three weeks ago WWE gave us Extreme Rules. While it wasn’t the greatest WWE event ever it surprised a lot of people by being an above average show. Unfortunately the latest pay-per-view offering, Over the Limit, doesn’t look likely to replicate the that success. The trouble is that three weeks just isn’t a long enough amount of time to justify another pay-per-view. Making matters worse is the fact that nowhere near enough time is being spent penning feuds that people will want to spend money to see. Miz versus Cena has been rumbling on since February, and this will mark their third pay-per-view main event in a row. Meanwhile Ezekiel Jackson and Wade Barrett have had a falling out in the three weeks since the last supershow. One feud has dragged on too long, the other has been rushed. Is it too much to ask for something in the middle?

It’s not all bad though. There are some feuds on the show that have, so far, gotten everything right. Randy Orton and Christian look as though they’re heading towards something pretty big, and R-Truth v Rey Mysterio, whilst thrown together fairly quickly because of a sudden injury to Truth’s planned opponent John Morrison, should be a solid mid-card match. Truth’s new heel character has not been universally accepted but I like it. Truth has excelled as a whiney heel that refuses to accept responsibility for his own shortcomings. He’s blamed everyone but himself for his problems, as all heels should, and sounded convincing doing it. He’s not my favourite wrestler on the roster but he’s reliable, and being in the ring with Rey will raise his profile and should provide an enjoyable contest.

What interests me is the long term plans for Truth. He was originally going to face Morrison at Over the Limit (and presumably Capitol Punishment as well) and then go on to face Rey at SummerSlam. Looking at recent booking I would guess that Mysterio’s original opponent for OtL was Alberto Del Rio. That match getting bumped is unfortunate for ADR, but I would imagine he’ll still make an appearance. WWE have spent too much time building him up to not use him on the show. The most likely scenario would be ADR costing Mysterio the match. Hopefully that would lead to Morrison and Mysterio v Del Rio and R-Truth at Capitol Punishment.

Whatever the result I’m pleased to see evidence of the company attempting to elevate some of its underutilised talent. It’s a shame the same can’t be said for the women’s division. Kelly Kelly has recently been featured in Maxim so I can understand why she’s appearing, but Brie Bella is a different story. The fact that she hasn’t dropped the Divas’ championship to Gail Kim, Melina, Beth Phoenix, Layla or Natalya can only be taken as yet another sign that WWE has no interest in promoting a serious and competitive women’s division.

This match exists only to capitalise on Kelly’s current popularity and as an excuse to have Kharma (formerly Awesome Kong) do another run-in. The story is that Kharma has attacked every diva she’s encountered except for Kelly. We’re supposed to wonder why this is, but I find it hard to care. The match will probably end with Kharma helping Kelly win the title and then doing some creepy staring at her.

Another match done a disservice by the writing team is Chavo Guerrero v Sin Cara. This bout has apparently been planned for a while but has been given very little in terms of television build. On the plus side it should be another example of just how good Sin Cara is and be a standout match for the event. There’s no way Chavo will win but it should be fun to watch.

Sticking with the theme of people the writing team is not using to their full potential let’s look at CM Punk. It’s true that not everyone can be in the main event all the time, but it’s been far too long since Punk was given a run as a credible singles performer with no baggage at ringside. I enjoyed the Straight Edge Society but it never really amounted to anything. It’s the same with the Nexus: the initial shock of seeing him put on the group’s armband was great, but since then he’s basically been commanding a team of green jobbers. He needs to sever ties with the Nexus and be given a singles feud with someone with whom he can produce top matches. Evan Bourne, Jack Swagger or John Morrison would be the people I’d consider for the role, before having Punk turn face and work as the first title challenger for Del Rio after SummerSlam.

CM Punk and Mason Ryan v Big Show and Kane could be decent if it doesn’t overstay its welcome and Ryan’s involvement is kept to a minimum. Show and Kane are best used as a team at this point in time, and if anyone can give them a good tag match it’s Punk. I think the original plan was probably to have Punk and Ryan win the belts, but with the amount of fluffs the Welshman has made in the past couple of weeks I now think the champions will retain.

The match that most intrigues me is Ezekiel Jackson v Wade Barrett. I don’t think it will be especially entertaining or memorable, but I want to see how Jackson is booked. If he makes short work of his former teammate and wins the match decisively it would help to reinvigorate him as a babyface. He was working out quite nicely in the role last year on RAW and I’d like to see that push resumed. SmackDown could do with another popular face and there are worse people than Big ‘Zeke for the role.

At the very bottom of the “things I’m looking forward to about Over the Limit” list is Jerry Lawler v Michael Cole. There’s just no appeal left. The feud should have ended at WrestleMania with Lawler decisively winning their match by knocking Cole out cold. Instead of that they subjected viewers to fifteen minutes of wrestling so bad it is best described as “punishment for the eye”. Not only that but they topped it off with the obnoxious heel winning. Over the Limit will, ridiculously, be their third pay-per-view clash in a row. The fact that this is currently the promotion’s longest running feud tells you one thing: it needs to stop. I hope the match is quick and that Cole finally loses. With all the whacky stipulations involved in the match I think that’s unlikely.

Appropriately, it’s the two world title matches that are going to carry the show. Miz has managed to drag bearable matches out of Cena several times now (most notably their 2nd May bout on RAW) which bodes well for Over the Limit. I expect Cena to retain so he has the title for the rumoured SummerSlam feud with Alberto Del Rio, but I don’t know how he’ll do it. Over the years Cena has been booked to win gimmick matches in a variety of weird and wonderful ways, from threatening JBL with an exhaust pipe at Judgment Day 2005 to (ludicrously) taping Batista down at last year’s Extreme Rules in their Last Man Standing match. He will win, but it’s impossible to predict how.

While Cena v Miz is expected to go on last it’s Christian v Orton that will almost certainly be the better match. Christian’s world title win was greeted warmly three weeks ago, fans were pleased that he had finally achieved the big win after such a long time with the company. His loss of the championship two nights later originally seemed like a mistake, but hopefully it was the beginning of the best feud SmackDown’s roster has to offer. I predict Christian will lose again at Over the Limit and then either refuse to shake Orton’s hand or jump him from behind, the result of frustration at not being able to win the title back. Christian would blame the fans for his bad luck against Orton as they were the ones who selected Orton to challenge him for the belt in the first place. I had hoped Orton would be the one to turn heel and Christian would remain as a face, but it looks as if the reverse will be true. They’ll have great matches no matter who the heel is. Hopefully Over the Limit will be the first of a few PPV matches for them.

The omission of Sheamus, Daniel Bryan, Alberto Del Rio and Cody Rhodes is frustrating as they’re the men that should be getting built up for the future. Del Rio and Cody in particular had a lot of momentum until a few weeks ago, and missing a pay-per-view is a setback neither man needs. Let’s hope WWE has plans for both at Capitol Punishment.

On paper it’s a show that doesn’t look amazing. Only Christian v Orton and Mysterio v Truth are going to definitely get the time they need to impress. The rest of the card will either be short changed on time or is a poor match to begin with. WWE could surprise us as they did with Extreme Rules, but I won’t hold my breath. This is one show that I can’t see exceeding WWE’s limits.

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