WWE Over the Limit 2012: Who Will Win This Sunday?
For a minor WWE pay-per-view, there is a surprising amount of hype going into this Sunday's Over the Limit event.
While there have been only five matches announced for the card, it's shaping up to be quite the event, indeed.
The bouts for the WWE Championship and World Heavyweight Championship promise to be nothing short of spectacular, and the stakes involved in the match between John Cena and GM John Laurinaitis serve to add interest to an otherwise lackluster matchup.
While the other matches to fill out the card are anyone's guess, (although Funkasaurus, Ryback and Santino sightings are likely) the event does promise some exciting matchups, and maybe a surprise here and there.
As with many other fans of professional wrestling, I have tried to make sound predictions for what promises to be an exciting event.
Pre-Show Match: Zack Ryder vs. Kane
Am I the only one who's completely finished with this "feud?"
Less than six months ago, Zack Ryder was ascending the ranks and establishing himself as a solid, mid-tier face. He was over with the fans, and he was holding the United States Championship.
Long Island Iced Z had it made.
In about that same time frame, Kane was coming off as extremely strong, and extremely frightening. He was in the forefront of the main-event scene, challenging John Cena and cutting some of the best promos of his career; his promo opening the January 9th Edition of Monday Night RAW was especially hair-raising.
Then, all hell broke loose.
A solid storyline that could well have led to complete disillusionment for John Cena, giving him something substantial to rise above, became derailed along the way.
While there was still hope for the storyline to have gone somewhere, the Eve heel-turn angle led to Zack Ryder and Kane being put on the back burner, more or less, aside from being incidental pieces of Cena and Eve's respective story arcs.
Kane made a strong showing in seriously injuring Ryder, but then he injured him again. And again. And again. The redundance made it nearly impossible to digest and eventually relegated both men to the, "Oh. It's them," camp of superstars.
Even a brief feud between Kane and Randy Orton didn't help; the damage had been done.
As such, this pre-show does not lend much of an air of excitement to potential viewers. It seems rather to be a way to show two guys who, just months ago, were really going places.
With no real build aside from calling back to their earlier storyline, I expect Ryder to once again lose to The Big Red Monster.
Tag Team Championship: Kofi and R-Truth vs. Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger
I'm glad to see the WWE doing something with Kofi and Truth. I really am. I'm also pleased to see Ziggler and Swagger back in the picture for some sort of title.
These four being so heavily featured in the tag division also lends an air of legitimacy to what was, up until recently, a dying division.
While Air Boom was certainly a better tag team, Kingston and Truth work well together. They're both superb athletes with exciting styles who are able to connect with the audience.
Ziggler and Swagger also make sense as a tag team, seeing as they've been in a stable together for quite some time and are rarely seen even in singles matches without the other ringside. With Swagger and Ziggler's solid technical wrestling backgrounds and Ziggler's show-off antics, they're fun to watch. They really are.
With that said, I don't like that Ziggler and Swagger still have separate entrances. For a tag team, I don't think that sells them as a legitimate duo, although the two do have some in-ring chemistry.
I expect for Kofi and R-Truth to retain the titles, but Ziggler and Swagger to show well in the matchup.
I also fully expect the team of Ziggler and Swagger to be built up strong in the coming weeks or months.
Winners: Kofi Kingston and R-Truth
WWE Divas Championship: Layla (c) vs. Beth Phoenix
This matchup just has me wondering if they're going to play hot potato with the Divas title some more, or let someone hang on to it.
Yes, Beth did hang on to it for quite some time before the recent quick changes, but I had always been under the impression that she was keeping it warm for Kharma, as it were. After all, the WWE Universe hasn't held a great deal of interest in the Divas division, but the potential for a Beth-Kharma matchup still has many salivating.
For these reasons, I have problems with predicting this match.
On the one hand, you could have Layla remain champion, establishing herself as another top talent in the division, and build her up. That would potentially aid the struggling Divas in getting more airtime and adding more interest to their matches.
Then again, that leaves even less room for a Kharma return, and even in her absence she is frequently mentioned and praised. Leaving her off TV for too long, if, as rumored, she is ready to return, could be catastrophic for an already failing division in the company.
That brings us to a potential Beth victory and her reclaiming of the title. That could leave an opening for Kharma to come back, and the dream feud between her and Phoenix could feasibly occur.
Even if the Kharma rumors were untrue, Beth holding the title seems to me the most efficient way to get yet another talented women's wrestler, Natalya, back in the picture. Those two seemed to be developing heat between each other, and a potential face turn for one of them and ensuing feud would make for solid viewing.
If Beth did reclaim the title, however, that brings up another glaring problem: What was the point of her dropping it to begin with, and what was the point of Layla winning it?
As there are so many factors to take into consideration, I highly doubt that the creative team has come up with a definitive solution.
Look for Layla to retain...this time.
John Laurinaitis vs. John Cena
Oh, Johnny Ace, what a fine mess you've gotten yourself into.
While a one-on-one match between these two has little to no chance of actually being a good match, it's the stipulations attached that make it interesting.
Right in the middle of his spiel on this Monday's RAW event about how he was the general manager and could make any changes to the match at his whim, John Laurinaitis was interrupted with what was, for him, very distressing news.
The board of directors had decided that he could not, in fact, alter the match in any way he saw fit. The fans were to know ahead of time exactly what they were getting.
What they will be getting is this: A one-on-one matchup between Cena and Mr. Excitement with no special guest referees, and no outside interference by any superstars, lest they be fired. Furthermore, the kicker to the whole thing, which left Mr. Laurinaitis shaking in his proverbial boots, is that if he happens to lose the match, he's fired.
Cue dramatic music.
This essentially ensures that Laurinaitis, currently far from being a peak physical specimen, is being required to win a match cleanly over a man who absolutely is. This does not bode well for the current GM of both the RAW and SmackDown brands.
Logically, this would mean that Cena, a dominant face of the company, would beat the much-hated Laurinaitis to a pulp and cost him his job.
The odds of that actually happening, however, are slimmer than the odds of the Cubs winning the World Series—i.e., it's just not going to happen.
Keeping in mind that there are two Superstars who, in storyline, were either "fired" or "quit" in the past few weeks, you'll see your loophole.
Laurinaitis also hasn't quite run his course in current storylines, so they've got no real reason to let him go. Look for him to pick up the win in a match that should, theoretically, have to be clean, but absolutely will not.
Winner: John Laurinaitis
WHC Fatal-Four-Way: Sheamus (c) vs. Jericho vs. Orton vs. Del Rio
In my eyes, this match has three possible victors, and they're listed in decreasing levels of likelihood in the title of this slide. Unfortunately for the champion, however, his odds aren't that much better than the other two, although his chances are infinitely larger than those of Alberto del Rio.
Sheamus has not been built as an especially legitimate champion. While the backlash from the all-too-brief title match at this year's WrestleMania (in which The Great White won the title from Daniel Bryan) was expected by quite a few to bury Bryan, it did the opposite.
Bryan, in spite of losing the title in an embarrassing match, became more over than ever. His signature, "Yes!" chants rang out across the globe, even being observed at non-wrestling sporting events.
Dozens of audience members at TV tapings for RAW and SmackDown can clearly be seen holding signs with this signature catch-phrase on it, and the chants can be heard to ring out in matches for which Bryan is not even a part.
Sheamus, meanwhile, in spite of securing the title, has not enjoyed that same level of elevation. While still over as a face, he's not completely over as a champion, not having had a legitimate feud since the title changed hands over a month and a half ago.
If anything, his only crowning achievement since winning the title was defending said title against Daniel Bryan in a two-out-of-three-falls match. That match, while superb, was not enough in and of itself to really show the WWE Universe that this guy is the real deal.
It also didn't help that they tried immediately to throw him into a somewhat illogical feud with the returning Alberto del Rio, who has the singular distinction of having a personal ring announcer who is more over with the crowd than he is...and even Ricardo Rodriguez isn't winning them over the way that he used to.
With this, it would appear that the WWE creative team realized they did not have a winning formula on their hands in a program between these two, so they went into damage control mode.
They likely had to ask themselves two very important questions.
One: Who is the face of the SmackDown brand? That would be Randy Orton. Add him to the match...but wait, he's not exactly known for just putting people over.
Two: Who is actually known for putting people over, and just helped to legitimize another champion in this company by putting on an excellent program with him? Why, that would be Chris Jericho. Add him to the match!
With the addition of these two talented superstars to the match, they can accomplish some very important things.
First of all, they've got Randy Orton back into the title picture. It was only a matter of time, but they seem to have been trying to find a way to do just that. With him back in the picture, that increases the value of the SmackDown programming, and is just plain good for business.
They can also use this match to make Alberto del Rio look strong. They seem dead set on establishing him as a top heel, and coming off looking very good in a match with three top-caliber wrestlers could help build him up.
Additionally, they can either establish Sheamus as a champion, or put the strap on someone who would be over as a champion. The former is risky, as there are no sure bets in that regard. The latter could also prove catastrophic for the champion.
If Sheamus retains, that could mean a heel turn for Randy Orton, and a feud between the two in the coming months. While that has already been somewhat teased with the stare-downs and heated words between the two of late, turning one of their top faces heel is a risky maneuver.
In that respect, Orton securing the title via pin-fall over Sheamus could have the same potential repercussions. Heel champions are certainly not unheard of and tend to carry the strap well, but taking the strap off a guy you're trying to solidify as a top face, potentially burying him, and simultaneously turning another top face heel? That's a gamble.
That brings us to Jericho.
While I want to dismiss this possibility with a snarky, "He clearly doesn't win pay-per-views anymore, so that's out," he's still not to be ruled out completely. Especially since I figure his role in the match, win or lose, to be the most vital.
If he wins, that's not going to bury or besmirch the title, and there's no shame for The Great White in losing to a superstar with so much success throughout his career. Jericho's contract appears to be good through Summer Slam, which would be the perfect time for him to drop the title to Sheamus or Orton, in what would be a very competitive match.
That could only add prestige to the title, really.
If he loses, though, that would also be very, very important in the grand scheme of things. Essentially, the best way for Sheamus to actually retain the title would be by earning a pin-fall on Jericho.
This time around, Jericho has done an exceptional job of helping champions get over, and being pinned by Sheamus in a very tough match would be no different.
While my own personal bias wishes that Jericho could hold a title during this run, I understand that seems not to be his lot.
I expect Sheamus to retain, earning the pin-fall on Jericho.
WWE Championship: CM Punk (c) vs. Daniel Bryan
If I could pick any match on the card that's going to sell this pay-per-view, it would be this one.
These two former ROH-darlings have already proved, time and again, that they're at the very top of the wrestling food chain. With superb athleticism, selfless devotion to their craft and supreme technical prowess, these guys are as much "the real deal" as you can get.
One need only watch their wonderful ROH matchup or check out the televised matches these two put on to show how spectacular this match can be.
I loathe jumping the gun and proclaiming something a Match of the Year candidate before it's even occurred, but this is a rare instance where I am confident in that assessment.
What you have here is a top face, fresh from an exceptional program with Chris Jericho, who seemingly cannot put on an awful match. Couple that with Daniel Bryan, whose star is quickly rising and who is without a doubt the best technical talent in professional wrestling today, and you have a match for the ages.
Yes, you'll be telling your grandchildren about this one, ladies and gents.
While the segment with AJ and CM Punk backstage could spell disaster for this match, I still hope against hope that they don't have any interference. Essentially, I think this match will be the most special if the creative team just shuts up and lets these two wrestle.
No frills. No bells and whistles. Just the best wrestling you're wont to see this side of Steamboat vs. Savage at WrestleMania III.
That's something that seems to have fallen off in recent years, and it's unfortunate. All the same, the recent scarcity of the type of match this is likely to be can only make it all the more special.
While this is certainly going to be a wonderful match between two tremendous talents, I really don't think it would be advisable to have Punk drop the title here. Unlike the Fatal-Four-Way, there seems not to be as much at stake here, so extensive analysis of possible scenarios feels like it would only besmirch what this match is really about.
CM Punk to win, but it's going to be quite the show.
Winner: CM Punk