For years, WWE's late April/May PPV event has featured all of the fallout and "Backlash", as it was named from 1999-2009, from WrestleMania. Last year, WWE decided to move one of their other events forward on the calendar to replace Backlash: Extreme Rules.
It was a move that made perfect sense. If the feuds from WrestleMania are continuing and have a need to escalate, what better way to do it than by having all of those feuds continue, or finish, in a specialty match? Whether it's a Steel Cage, Ladder, Tables, Falls Count Anywhere or Last Man Standing match, the extreme stipulations are a good way to solve a dispute once and for all...and get some PPV buys.
Given the success of WrestleMania XXVII financially, Extreme Rules should fare pretty well this year, even though last year's event ended up receiving less buys than the 2009 Backlash event.
What's interesting about the event this year is the transitions and changes we're seeing during its build-up, which we will see when the event airs. Edge's sudden retirement threw WWE into a bit of a tough position and some of the roster moves that weren't set to happen until June had to happen in late April.
However, while some may think that those moves drastically changed some of the results, I think that WWE is still in a very good position and can continue with the plans they had before Edge's retirement.
Here's a rundown and prediction of all of the matches on the card.
The LayCool tandem has been the best thing to happen to the Divas division over the last couple of years. Too often the division lacked storylines and strong characters, but then LayCool came along and brought some solidarity and entertainment to the table.
There's a reason why one or both of them always seemed to be involved in the Divas or Women's Championship matches. And they won a good amount of those matches. No doubt that through their accomplishments, LayCool will go down as the best Diva tandem in WWE history (not that there has been many Diva "tandems" to speak of).
That having been said, all good things must come to an end and this Sunday, LayCool will end once and for all as the former "Flawless" friends face eachother in a "Loser Leaves WWE" match. This match was only made official last night on SmackDown, but already the web is buzzing because reports have come out saying that Michelle McCool is leaving WWE for real, at least for awhile.
I wouldn't expect the match to be anything great and anyone who is, needs to check their expectations at the door. It won't last very long and it won't feature a hot crowd, simply because it's just not as important as the other matches on the card and it's been thrown together rather quickly. However, I would expect to see McCool and Layla make the best out of it and give the match the bit of intensity that it should have.
Even before the rumors of McCool's departure (or absence) from the company surfaced, I've expected that Layla would be getting the victory when these two finally squared off. The rumors just now seem to confirm it. It would only make sense, anyway.
Through LayCool's run, Layla has always seemed like much more of a sidekick than an equal to McCool. She was often the one to take punishment or take the pinfall. For that reason, Layla needs the victory to establish some credibility, whereas McCool wouldn't be harmed by a loss (especially if she's really leaving WWE). Layla will get a pinfall victory and I can see a full-on face turn for her in the next few weeks.
Within a year, Michael Cole has become one of the most hated heels in all of WWE. His character has taken a complete turn from what he was always known as every week on television. And it has no doubt been incredibly entertaining. His feud with Jerry Lawler was one of the hottest going into WrestleMania and his actual victory at the event left everyone in shock.
Now, Jack Swagger and Jim Ross (who has quite an intense feud with Cole now, as well) have been added to the mix in what's going to be a "Country Whipping Match". I'm sure there's been one of those before, but I never expected to see Jim Ross, Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler involved in one. One thing is for sure, this will finally bring this feud to a close.
Once again, I wouldn't expect much from this match. Lawler is still good in the ring and Swagger continues to improve, but we all know that the wrestling abilities of Cole and Ross are...limited, to say the least. But great in-ring action is not the point. Revenge and possible humiliation is, though—and perhaps a bit of entertainment here and there.
I look for Lawler and Ross to get the win. Afterwards, watch for a Jack Swagger face turn. Don't think for one second that Swagger has forgotten about the bullying he endured from Cole on RAW a couple of weeks ago and Cole actually seemingly costing Swagger a victory against Sin Cara on the April 29 episode of SmackDown.
Cole will yell at Swagger again and cross a line, and Swagger will take him out. Swagger needs to turn face in what appears to be a heel-heavy RAW after last Monday's Draft, so this makes sense to me.
Winners: Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross
The Mysterio/Rhodes rivalry was, in my opinion, one of the best feuds going into WrestleMania XXVII and turned out to be one of the best matches at that event. It was nice to know that Mysterio handpicked Cody Rhodes as his opponent at WrestleMania as well as see him put Rhodes over in a win that Rhodes most definitely needed more than Mysterio ever did.
Since WrestleMania, the feud has continued and it seems that Rhodes has only improved even more off of the momentum he gained by defeating Mysterio. His character continues to get even darker and more interesting with every promo and act against Mysterio. The "paper bag" thing, has been a nice touch. This whole feud has elevated Rhodes.
I don't think that this match will be as good as their match at WrestleMania simply because of the stipulation that allows them to go all over the arena beating each other up instead of having it out in a straight-up wrestling match in the ring. However, I still think that it will entertain and the crowd will likely be into it.
I think Mysterio will get the victory here. It just seems to make the most sense. This is definitely the feud-ending match, since both guys are now on separate shows. Mysterio will need some momentum as he goes to the "A" show, whereas Rhodes already got the credibility he needed off of his victory at WrestleMania and will be fine to lose this match. Mysterio losing just wouldn't be a good ending.
Winner: Rey Mysterio
The Orton/Punk feud was hot going into WrestleMania XXVII and they turned out quite a good match. Some have even said it was the match of the night (even the "Hitman" himself, Bret Hart). Personally, I remember it being good, but I'll have to watch it again when WrestleMania comes out on DVD.
However, ever since WrestleMania, it seems that things have kind of fizzled out. There was the moment where the New Nexus returned and beat up Orton, but other than that, not much seems to have happened. That can mostly be attributed to the quick manner in which Orton had to be prepared to be shipped off to SmackDown.
Still, Last Man Standing matches are historically good in WWE and I have no doubt that Orton and Punk can deliver a great performance to end their rivalry and the crowd should be hot for it. I would expect some interference in this match, too, given the stipulation. I don't think New Nexus will prove to be much of a problem for Orton, though, as that group seems to be quietly reaching it's end.
In the end, one might think that Orton would win to gain momentum with his new position as the top guy on SmackDown, but I think Punk will take this one. The match type just allows for shenanigans and there seems to be a few different ways someone could come and cost Orton the match.
Alberto Del Rio seems a likely candidate to cause problems and, although much less likely, a returning Chris Jericho could get some revenge on "Randall". Plus, Orton won at WrestleMania, so Punk needs the win. And don't forget that there are rumors that Punk hasn't signed a new contract with WWE and may be leaving, so perhaps WWE will throw him a bone.
Winner: CM Punk
Alberto Del Rio seemed all set to win the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania. Everyone expected Del Rio to beat Edge and win his first world title, continuing his big push in WWE.
However, it's said that Edge's sudden need to retire made WWE change their minds and give Edge a victory at WrestleMania in a world title match, something he had never had in his great career. Personally, I think it was planned for Edge to win all along, with Del Rio getting the title at Extreme Rules.
Thankfully, replacing Edge in the scheduled WHC Ladder match wasn't too difficult. As luck would have it, Christian, Edge's tag team partner and long-time best friend, has been in a feud with Del Rio since September of last year, when Del Rio put "Captain Charisma" on the shelf for six months.
Since he returned, Christian's been on a roll and has always stayed in Del Rio's business. Adding Christian to the equation was a simple solution and it made the most sense.
The match will be good and I have no doubt about it. Both guys are capable of turning in great performances and Christian is a veteran of Ladder matches. Also, I believe that the crowd will be really into this one, rooting for Christian to win the title in honor of his retired friend. Along the way, he can accomplish something that many fans think he should have accomplished a long time ago.
However, I'm picking Del Rio to win the title match. As much as Christian winning the title would be a feel good WWE moment that could live on forever, Del Rio is getting a huge push. Since being drafted to RAW, he'll need some momentum as it seems that he'll be a top heel on that brand.
The World Heavyweight Championship can do that.
I expect Del Rio to win the title and then get wrapped in a feud with SmackDown's Orton, who will be positioned as the guy who can bring the title back to the blue brand.
Winner and NEW World Heavyweight Champion: Alberto Del Rio
Few expected The Miz to leave WrestleMania as the WWE Champion, but I said all along that I thought that Miz was going to pull off the upset. I'm glad to see that I was right because The Miz's reign has been great since he won the title in November. He's proven that he can be a big star in WWE.
This match is interesting because R-Truth was originally involved instead of Morrison, but Morrison goaded Truth into putting his spot on the line, an act that got Morrison in the match instead. This triggered an R-Truth heel turn. The Cena/Miz rivalry hasn't had much added to it since WrestleMania.
The match will be good, but not the best of the night. I completely expect to see Morrison do something crazy (as he does in every specialty match) and I'm sure there will be plenty of excitement to keep the crowd hot. I would expect to see R-Truth get involved in some fashion. Yes, cage matches are made to keep others out, but when has that ever stopped anyone?
I'm picking The Miz to retain here again. He's on a roll as WWE Champion and I think WWE will keep his reign going a little bit longer. Morrison is in there to take the pin or submission no matter what, I think.
I feel that the most likely scenario sees him getting pinned by Cena as Miz escapes the cage and retains before the three count can be made. There's a small chance that scenario could also be used as Cena wins the match, but I just feel like this match was created with the idea of Miz finding a way to sneak out (no pun intended) yet again.
Winner and STILL WWE Champion: The Miz
In the end, there may be another match added (I could see Sheamus vs. Kingston for the United States Championship getting a spot), but as of right now, this card looks pretty good.
It sucks that I have to tell anyone to lower their expectations for the LayCool match and the Country Whipping match, but I think the other four matches should make up for that. It'll be an exciting night that sees rivalries end and new eras begin.
What do YOU think will happen at Extreme Rules? Disagree with one (or all) of my predictions? Let me know and tell me why below.
I hope everyone enjoys the show.