Extreme Rules is finally upon us!
ECW! ECW! ECW!
Oh wait, Extreme Rules no longer has anything to do with Extreme Championship Wrestling, and instead, it is only as extreme as a PG television show will allow.
But that doesn't mean we couldn't still have a good show!
Traditionally, the pay-per-view after WrestleMania (which used to be Backlash), is often full of rematches from WrestleMania. But with The Rock, Undertaker and CM Punk gone, WWE had to get a little creative (except for a rematch of HHH vs. Lesnar that no one seemed to be begging for).
There's nothing to overly fear on the show, but perhaps nothing that is all that exciting either. If everyone has their working boots on though, this could be a good night of wrestling.
I'm putting my lifetime 26-9 pay-per-view guessing record on the line (after skipping out the past two shows), as we take one last look at Extreme Rules and take our best guesses as to who will be declared the winners.
Burning Question: Will Miz decide to leave the WWE over the success of his upcoming ABC Family film The Christmas Bounty?
Match Outlook: Former WrestleMania main-eventer The Miz has now become the king of the pay-per-view pre-show these days. For a guy that gets as much TV time as he does, it's hard to believe that he never really has that much to do.
Expect a five-to-seven minute match that will leave no one more excited to buy the show but will ultimately be an OK match.
Projection: The Miz (99 percent confidence)
Cody Rhodes hasn't won a singles match on Raw or SmackDown since Feb. 5. The Miz hasn't won a match on Raw or SmackDown in three days.
Burning Question: If Dean Ambrose wins the US title, how many singles matches will he lose in the upcoming weeks?
Match Outlook: There's no reason to think these two can't deliver a good match. But without much of a storyline, and a likely 10-12-minute time frame, don't expect it to reach greatness.
Final Projection: Ambrose (70 percent confidence)
The thought of The Shield having the US and Tag Team Titles is interesting, except for the fact of how devalued both titles are.
Sure, Team Hell No has held the belts for some time, but that's mainly because there's no competition. There are only about four tag-teams in the entire company.
Likewise, Kingston hasn't set the world on fire with his US Title run so far, and he captured it from Antonio Cesaro, who had a terrible run, who captured it from Santino, who had an even worse run.
Anyway, I don't see Kofi winning cleanly, so either Ambrose takes home the gold or he ends up getting DQ'd.
Burning Question: Which dancer will Fandango bring with him to ringside?
Match Outlook: These two had a decent match at WrestleMania, but they have the potential to do much better. It's a little surprising that WWE doesn't have some sort of gimmick match for them, but they'll be better off without one.
If given enough time, this could be a solid match with a lot of crowd support for Jericho.
Final Projection: Chris Jericho (52 percent confidence)
Vince McMahon seems to love him some Fandango these days, and he's been pretty well protected so far. Still, you could see this feud going on for longer, which means Jericho could even up the score for a blowoff match down the road.
Burning Question: What sort of shenanigans will Sheamus use to carry Mark Henry to every corner?
Match Outlook: Sheamus can be a pretty good brawler, who possesses a surprising amount of power. He also took a pretty mean belt beating, as he displayed a few weeks ago.
This could be a good, hard-hitting old-school type match if WWE allows it. Or it could be a slow, plodding match that never gets off the ground.
Final Projection: Sheamus (75 percent confidence)
Mark Henry may be the smarter choice to win (especially to set up a showdown with John Cena after his feud with Ryback), but the deck is supposedly so stacked against Sheamus, that by using WWE logic means he'll be pulling through with a victory.
Burning Question: After Daniel Bryan's great pop on Raw, should WWE consider breaking the beloved Team Hell No up?
Match Outlook: Now that Dolph Ziggler is off of Extreme Rules, this has the potential to be the best match on the show. The Shield has yet to have a bad match together, and Kane and Bryan seem to always deliver some decent action as well.
Final Projection: The Shield (65 percent confidence)
Much like Ambrose vs. Kingston, I see this as either The Shield capturing the gold, or they're caught cheating and get disqualified. It wouldn't be the right time to have the duo lose cleanly as they've been protected for so long.
Either way, it wouldn't be a bad time to begin moving Bryan away from Kane, especially with WWE needing some strong babyfaces in a bad way.
Burning Question: Who put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp?
Really, there's just nothing interesting about this match anymore, so the above question is much more pressing.
Match Outlook: For a time, this was the most exciting match booked for the show. Then, Dolph Ziggler went down with a concussion. Instead of a three-way ladder match, we're down to Swagger vs. Del Rio in an "I Quit Match."
With a Last Man Standing match already booked, do we really need two matches that heavily involve a referee slowing down the action by seeing if the other wrestler can continue?
Final Projection: Del Rio (85 percent confidence)
Jack Swagger had a great night a couple of weeks ago when he absolutely destroyed Del Rio, Ricardo Rodgiguez, Big E. Langston and Ziggler. It was probably the most impressive he'd ever looked. But by that week's SmackDown, he was back to normal.
Del Rio just makes a lot more sense to face Ziggler since he won the title from him. The only way around that would be if WWE wants to save those two for a bigger show and go with Swagger in the short term.
Burning Question: Can The Viper defeat The Giant in a non-handicapped match?
Match Outlook: This just feels like one of those matches between two not-quite-on-top-of-the-card guys who are thrown together just to give them something to do. These two have faced each other so many times in the past that it doesn't feel special seeing them fight again.
Still, Sheamus was able to get some pretty good matches out of The Big Show, so maybe a motivated Orton could do the same.
Final Projection: Orton (60 percent confidence)
Somebody in the WWE has to be the No. 2 babyface, and the company likes to play it safe. With Ryback turning and Sheamus plateauing, maybe they will slide The Viper back into that spot.
No matter who wins, though, this feud will probably continue another month, despite the amount of apathy surrounding it.
Burning Question: Will Hunter be able to put his ego aside and do what's right for business?
Match Outlook: It's unbelievable how badly damaged Brock Lesnar is right now. I get that WWE likes to keep the heels nice and cowardly, but Lesnar should have been the exception to the rule.
Hunter gets to beat up Brock in a fair fight, while all Lesnar got to do was destroy office furniture that obviously didn't belong to Mr. Helmsley. That's not really a great build-up.
Final Projection: Lesnar (60 percent confidence)
If Lesnar loses again, he will basically be worthless to the company.
If he wins, WWE can set up matches between him and Cena, Sheamus or Undertaker. If he loses, then maybe it can build to him facing JTG on Main Event.
OK, maybe it won't be that bad, but the investment in Lesnar can't possibly have paid off for the company. Maybe that's because he has trouble beating up one of the top members of management?
Expect Brock to win by a fluky fashion. Maybe he'll get punched out of the cage door, just so Hunter can pretend a little longer that he's actually tougher than a former UFC champion.
Burning Question: If Ryback loses to a one-legged man, how much more will his career be damaged?
Match Outlook: Last year, John Cena battled Brock Lesnar at Extreme Rules in a fantastic main event. Ryback vs. Cena has a very small chance of living up to that match.
However, Ryback has had some pretty good matches lately with Daniel Bryan. Maybe a healthy Cena could surprise the fans into carrying Ryback into a compelling brawl.
Final Projection: Cena (90 percent confidence)
WWE would have been wise to hold of on this feud, as there's almost no way that it would have Cena lose the title this early into his run. But with Ryback losing six pay-per-view matches in a row, a seventh loss will really damage his already lukewarm heel run.
In the end, though, Cena just doesn't lose I Quit or Last Standing matches. He'll probably spend the vast majority of the match selling his injured ankle, but he'll come up with something cute (duct tape again?) to keep Ryback down for the 10 count.