Thursday 16 June 2011

Capitol Punishment preview

I’d like to start this preview by talking about the job WWE have done of hyping Sunday’s Capitol Punishment show. Several years ago the company was known for doing a solid job when it came to promoting its pay-per-view events on television but in the last few months they have become noticeably lacklustre. Extreme Rules and Over the Limit were given just token mentions on both RAW and SmackDown each week, which has apparently resulted in one of the lowest buy rates in company history (for Over the Limit).

Instead of talking about the announced matches and trying to create some interest in the show the tactic for Capitol Punishment has been to air weekly videos featuring stock footage of Barrack Obama answering questions intercut with actors pretending to be journalists asking about WWE’s pay-per-view. The goal is for them to be funny. They aren’t, and they certainly wouldn’t make me want to pay forty dollars to watch the show.

At a time when the wrestling business in general is struggling with television ratings and live attendance WWE really needs to put a far greater focus on creating must-see cards and hyping them sufficiently. I hope the low figures for Over the Limit serve as a warning to the group and they make the necessary changes.

All that said the Capitol Punishment card looks pretty good. Part of the reason for that is that there are no gimmick matches announced. I have said several times before that gimmick matches should be used sparingly otherwise they run the risk of becoming devalued. I think the lack of such bouts on the announced card is a smart move and one that should be employed more often.

The match that probably has the most potential to entertain viewers is CM Punk v Rey Mysterio. They’ve had two very good matches on RAW in the last three weeks, and are two of the company’s best workers. It will take a very sharp match to beat these two to the match of the night spot. As far as a winner goes, I’ll pick Punk because of the non-title victory he got over Cena on RAW. That and the interaction with Austin make me think there are long term plans in mind for him (and the rumours about his general unhappiness at the way the company has used him lately make a win seem likely too).

The biggest threat to the match of the night crown Punk and Mysterio have is the Christian v Randy Orton match. This feud has been very well paced and is a good example of how the SmackDown writing team generally come up with a more enjoyable, consistent show than their colleagues on RAW. I did originally think Christian should be kept face as Orton works better as a bad guy, and while I stand by that I do think Orton has improved in his current role since moving to the blue brand. Christian’s a better natural face but he does his best work as a heel. I think we’ve got a very good situation with this feud.

The result could go either way, but I suspect Orton will win. Christian should win the title by cheating though. That would keep the feud alive until Money in the Bank in July and allow both men to look strong: Christian would be able to brag about being champion while Orton would be seen as the rightful champion as Christian cheated. I like this feud and want it to continue. That could happen if Orton retains again, but it would be tougher to maintain the current momentum.

A match I don’t expect to be quite as enjoyable is Alberto Del Rio v Big Show. This has been a ludicrous waste of a man who was such an essential part of SmackDown just two months ago. If this is the best he is going to get on RAW he should be moved straight back to Friday nights. The quicker this match is the better. Hopefully it will turn out to have just been a diversion for Del Rio until Cena becomes free for a title feud.

I have a lot more time for the Intercontinental championship match between Wade Barrett and Ezekiel Jackson than I do Big Show v Del Rio. Neither man has ever shown the potential that ADR has and so it’s less frustrating to see them lower down the card. It’s also been a more enjoyable feud than I expected, thanks partly to the pleasantly surprising reactions to Big ’Zeke since he left the Corre. It won’t blow anyone away, but it should keep the crowd pretty responsive. Jackson to win.

Miz v Alex Riley is another match that has featured pleasantly surprising crowd reactions. Two months ago I wouldn’t have considered A-Ry as a prospective babyface. He seemed too bland and generic, but he’s been accepted by the fans very quickly. The key to it is that he’s not been overexposed and audiences are pleased to see someone trying to shut The Miz up. I have a feeling it’s been a case of “right place, right time” for Riley’s success, but he and WWE deserve credit for capitalising on it.

Their recent brawls on RAW have been popular and had solid crowd responses so I expect the Capitol Punishment match to start in a similar fashion and not go too long. Miz winning wouldn’t be hugely surprising (I’m used to WWE messing up when it comes to the building of new stars) but I’ll assume they’re going to keep getting this right and predict Riley as the winner.

Ziggler v Kingston has, unfortunately, been announced for the event with very little reason and is clearly there as filler. If the two men (and Vickie Guerrero) had been granted a little more time over the last three weeks this match (and the United States title) could mean something. But that’s not the world we live in. I think the match will be very enjoyable as the two men work very well with one another, but it won’t be especially memorable. As far as a winner goes... Kofi? Ziggler won a non-title match a few weeks ago, which (according to WWE’s Big Book of Predictable Writing) makes it Kofi’s turn on Sunday.

The main event of R-Truth challenging John Cena for the WWE championship is something that intrigues me. Will Cena blow through Truth with his regular routine and pin him within ten minutes or will Truth be permitted to look competitive and be perceived as a genuine threat to the title? I’m hoping that they go with the latter considering the time and energy spent establishing him as such a great heel.

I’d have no problems with Truth winning the WWE championship: he may not be the company’s best wrestler but he’s certainly better than Cena and it would be a sign that WWE is trying something new. I’m expecting Cena to retain though: he’s a safe pair of hands and there’s a planned feud with Alberto Del Rio waiting for him.

Capitol Punishment appeals to me far more than Extreme Rules or Over the Limit did. I hope the available time is allocated wisely and the right people win. As long as Cena v Truth doesn’t get twenty-five minutes and a load of needless gimmicks don’t get added to half the matches I think there’s a very good chance that this could be a really good show. As ever with WWE PPVs, it’s now just a case of crossing our fingers and hoping for the best.

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