The most extreme evening on the WWE calendar is under 48 hours away, an event which is sure to be brutal, sadistic, bloody...actually forget that last part. Vince McMahon said yesterday in his shareholders meeting that blood is not required in matches of this nature.
Right, okay, whatever you say Vince. I'll just overlook the fact that you ruined two of the main events at WrestleMania and take your word for it.
Speaking of WrestleMania, what a bloody letdown! I mean sure, we had three decent matches, but the rest was pretty dismal.
It was certainly no worse than the two previous years' efforts, but WrestleMania has lost its way since the 24th iteration of the event. Which, just as a coincidence, was the last WrestleMania not held under a PG rating.
Nothing against the PG rating, but WWE could do so much more to make the product more sophisticated and appeal to all audiences.
For instance, Tough Enough debuted on television four weeks ago, and has arguably been the best show week in week out WWE are currently producing.
However, a big reason for that is because the language tag on the PG rating allows Austin to truly express himself and the same applies to all the contestants on the show. Why not do the same to Raw and Smackdown!?
Overall, my rating for WrestleMania XXVII is 7/10. Just as a side note, I make this the third consecutive year that Undertaker has been one of the main factors in saving WrestleMania.
So Vince, instead of fining him for taking a chair shot to the hand (that's right, the hand), you should be kissing his feet. Were it not for Undertaker vs. HHH, this year's event would have been a point-blank failure.
Now, back to Extreme Rules. This is one of my favourite WWE PPV's of the year because I do appreciate the gimmick matches.
The card for the show this year has more potential than the one from four weeks ago, and really there is only one match which I am not anticipating. Guess which one.
So, on to the predictions:
This match is being previewed first to get it out of the way. In case you didn't guess, this is that one match I was referencing in the previous slide.
The storyline between Cole and King is now officially past its sell-by date. At WrestleMania we were treated to 30 of the worst minutes in PPV history in the match between Cole and King, which consequently led to the US title match being dropped from the card.
I do not want to see Cole, King or JR in the ring competing ever again. There is one place and one place only for them, and that is behind the announcers' desk.
At least this match features Jack Swagger, who has become relevant again because of this feud, which is pretty much the only positive thing to come out of it.
Expect this match to be absolutely awful. I don't give a damn who wins, as long as its quick. I'll give Swagger the win because he might gain something from it, and he is a talent well worth pushing.
Winners: Jack Swagger & Michael Cole
Projected Rating: 1/2*
I expect this match to be one of the many highlights at this year's Extreme Rules. This is a rematch from WrestleMania, but this time its gloves off in Falls Count Anywhere.
At WrestleMania, these two produced one of the few highlights of the show in a decent back and forth match which saw Cody Rhodes finally receive the defining victory of his career. The only thing the match could have used more of is time.
I have been really impressed with Rhodes since he donned the transparent mask, sure it is ridiculous, but that is what makes professional wrestling entertaining and unique.
We have seen a complete metamorphosis of Rhodes' character from a self-confident guy who loved himself and his looks above to an unhinged man who speaks like a lunatic and hides in the shadows his mind has created for him.
Even more impressive is that Rhodes came up with the idea of this new character himself, so credit where credit is due.
Mysterio was drafted to Raw this Monday night and after losing at WrestleMania, I can only really see vengeance on the cards at Extreme Rules.
Don't let that take away from the match though, it is sure to be enigmatic with the action spilling all over the arena. These guys are capable of putting on one hell of a show in Tampa.
Winner: Rey Mysterio
Projected Rating: ***1/4
One thing I really respect about the card for this event is the focus on feuds above titles. So far (including this one) I have previewed three matches, none of which have been about gold, but about a personal rivalry between the combatants.
I feel that a healthy mix of feud and title matches is what makes a great PPV.
It is a rather sad time for me on the divas front. Unlike most people on this site, I really liked LayCool and in my estimation they have been keeping the divas division going over the last couple of years.
However, all good things must come to an end, and now the flawless twins will engage in an extreme battle this Sunday.
On Raw this week, we saw physicality from these two which has been largely lacking from the divas division over the last few years, and for me it freshened this feud and made it one of the key bouts for this Sunday's PPV.
Maybe WWE are preparing fans for the imminent arrival of Kharma, who is bound to bring similar physicality to the division.
What's more, this looks like being the last match Michelle McCool will have in the WWE (for now anyway).
The news came out yesterday that McCool is probably on her way out of the WWE, which is a real shame because she is really very talented and one of the top wrestlers in the division.
So unfortunately, it seems as though the outcome to this match has been somewhat spoiled, but as with the previous match don't let that ruin it.
Last year at Extreme Rules, we saw a decent divas match involving an ironing board and various other utensils. This year I feel we will see perhaps a new level of brutality from the divas as Michelle will probably want to go out with a bang, as well as create a new star in her friend Layla.
This could be the coming-of-age match for Layla, which is a positive because she has a lot of charisma and ability.
Maybe we will see the debut of Kharma in this match? It seems to be an ideal setting, and maybe she will take out McCool after the match hence writing her out of the storylines? That actually seems pretty likely to me.
Projected Rating: **
Admittedly, of all the big matches on the card, this particular contest is far from top of my priority list.
A big reason for this is that the match is taking place in a steel cage, and in my opinion, cage matches are somewhat dull.
This is because the action is limited strictly to the ring and there are no weapons inside the cage apart from the steel itself, which due to WWE's no blood policy, leaves a lot to be desired.
They could have made an 'extreme steel cage match' with weapons hanging from the top of the cage etc.
Thankfully at WrestleMania, The Rock got the better of John Cena and cost him the WWE title.
The next night on Raw, this was somewhat ruined by announcing the match between the two for next year's WrestleMania, which for me is not a good move.
There is no Rock to interfere on behalf of The Miz this time, however, and so the champ will have to be more astute to retain his title.
The inclusion of Morrison in the match makes things somewhat more interesting, because he might at least jump off the top of the cage at some point.
However, he will not be winning this match realistically as he is nowhere near a big enough star to hold the belt yet.
So it is between The Miz and John Cena, and Cena will probably come out on top. It has been quite a while since Cena last held the championship, and the Miz went over Cena on the biggest stage of them all.
So WWE will probably feel obliged to please its younger fans who have had a hard time of it lately with Cena being bettered by the Miz.
This also allows the feud between the two to continue until Cena goes off on a new feud with Del Rio heading into SummerSlam.
If Cena lost this match, who would he feud with? He has already fought CM Punk, so Del Rio is the only real person he can face. But that would leave The Miz a bit short of face challengers for his belt.
Expect a decent match here, but it will by no means be match of the night.
Projected Rating: ***
With the saddening and shocking retirement of Edge, Christian has stepped up to take on Del Rio for the vacant world title.
Edge had a wonderful career in WWE, he is one of the all time greats and will be greatly missed, but he is certainly heading to the Hall Of Fame at some point.
This match should be a cracker. Christian is one of the top ladder-match specialists in the world today, so he knows exactly how to take these matches to the next level.
Del Rio is a gifted wrestler in his own right, and at the TLC PPV back in December he showed that he is not too shabby when it comes to utilising ladders himself.
Del Rio was drafted to Raw this Monday and I cannot help but wonder if that gives away the result of this match.
If Del Rio won, Raw would have both world championships. Fair enough, Smackdown has both mid-card titles, but WWE shouldn't be trying to make Smackdown a mid card show which is why the move of the US champion Sheamus to the blue brand surprised me.
I'm not sure Randy Orton would be overly pleased if he were just challenging for the US and Intercontinental titles.
I'm guessing that the situation will rectify itself over the coming weeks.
I expect this ladder match to be a must-see encounter, and I believe that the IWC's dreams will finally come true on Sunday night with Christian finally winning the world title.
Winner: Christian (New Champion)
Projected Rating: ***3/4
To me, this match is the main event of the evening, even if it doesn't close the show, it is certainly the most anticipated match.
At WrestleMania, I really hoped WWE would do the right thing and give CM Punk a much-needed win, but alas it was not to be.
Fast forward three weeks and rumours have been swirling that CM Punk's time in the WWE may be coming to an end.
According to sources and talent, Punk is not happy about his position in the company and is knackered due to the traveling required to tour with the WWE.
To be honest I don't blame Punk. In 2010 he was completely buried by the WWE for no reason whatsoever, the most talented guy on the roster made to job to Mysterio and Big Show.
The guy even had his hair shaved off, which must have been a big sacrifice for him to make, but he was willing to make it for the sake of the company.
We now arrive in 2011, and for the first couple of months of the year Punk was given victories over John Cena and given his own group in the Nexus. He then lost to Cena at Elimination Chamber back in February and it has been downhill ever since.
WWE has pretty much buried the Nexus, including Punk. It makes me seethe. Punk is the most talented guy under the age of 40 in the WWE right now, its about time he was treated with some respect.
Well done WWE, you have driven your most talented young wrestler, who bleeds this business and loves the WWE, to the point where he is considering leaving the company.
Moving Beth Phoenix to Raw during the draft was a half-decent gesture to allow Punk some more time on the road with his girlfriend, but you must start treating Punk like a top guy in the company.
To do that, and to ensure that Punk does not leave the company, you must start pushing him properly.
WWE obviously wants to keep Punk, which is why they offered him a long-term contract. So why not use him properly?
I'm not saying Punk should win all his matches, a guy like him is probably perfectly happy putting people over for the sake of the business, but when he is constantly putting people over it gets beyond the joke and is disrespectful to such a talented guy like Punk.
It serves no purpose to have him constantly lose. If a face loses to a heel, it makes the return match all the more relevant to the fans. Whereas having the heel lose all the time just makes him look weak, and the matches carry no sense of purpose.
So, give him the win over Orton at Extreme Rules.
Now that rant is out of the way, I have to say that I expect this contest to be match of the night. Punk said on Raw that he was going to be using all types of furniture in the match and giving it his all, and Orton is capable of putting on a terrific match.
These two men have a lot of chemistry together in the ring, which is probably because their characters are rather similar.
So, I am making this prediction once more out of faith that WWE will do the right thing for the sake of the company (to keep CM Punk in it) and finally give Punk the recognition he deserves in a win over Orton.
Winner: CM Punk
Projected Rating: ****
***Update*** Just a little extra note here, if CM Punk does win this match it will be his first PPV win since Extreme Rules this time last year, where he beat Rey Mysterio. No wonder the guy is annoyed, I certainly would be in his position.