I just watched the Extreme Rules PPV and I only predicted that there would be possibly two title changes on the card, there were in fact five title changes during the show, which was very, very surprising. Since it’s such a rare occasion for there to be five title changes in one night, I’d like to write a column discussing the possible effects of those switches on the WWE landscape. Before getting to that, however, I want to mention that Extreme Rules was a really solid show and the Big Show/John Cena match was the only one that I didn’t care for but other than that, it was a very entertaining PPV with a lot of great action. Now, let’s talk about the new champions.
I had said early last week in the Extreme Rules prediction column I posted that I thought Chris Jericho could use the IC title to validate his position on Smackdown and he did win the belt but the finish to the match was very intriguing in my view because it appears to be an indication that the Rey/Jericho feud will be taken to another level in the next few weeks. It must be noted that Rey and Jericho put on a very good match at Extreme Rules so I’m defiantly looking forward to the rest of their matches during the course of the feud. The finish of the match saw Jericho take Rey’s mask off and while Rey was covering his face, Jericho was able to use a roll up to get the victory. The stage would appear to be set for a mask vs. title match some where down the line, which could be a very interesting scenario because Rey’s mask has been the center piece of his character since he debuted in the WWE in 2002. That being said, I’d be extremely surprised if Rey loses his mask during his WWE run simply because of how many Rey masks are sold and we all know the WWE places specific importance on merchandise and the opportunities to market merchandise. Rey without a mask would possibly take away the potential merchandising revenue associated with Rey and more specifically, his trademark mask. It needs to be mentioned that Rey did unmask back in WCW but you have to consider that much of Rey’s younger fan base was probably not even born or were too young to remember Rey without a mask nearly a decade ago so I don’t think the fact that Rey was unmasked in WCW diminishes the importance of the mask to his character in the WWE.
The next title to change hands was the ECW belt and I have to say, I was really surprised that Tommy Dreamer actually won the title. There were Internet rumors for months that Tommy was going to retire and when you considered that the WWE didn’t really do much with him until recently, it seemed like it was more than possibly that Tommy could have been retiring. Thankfully though Dreamer is still apart of the WWE roster and I think it’s really cool that Tommy won the title. Dreamer as champion really adds a lot to ECW from a storyline prospective because with the relatively young roster, there are now many possibilities for the “young lion vs. the veteran” type of storylines, which can create some good T.V. That being said, it will be interesting to see what Christian does on the ECW brand from this point and if he will stay in the title picture. I’m also interested to see how long Dreamer actually holds the title considering that his last ECW title run nine years ago lasted less than ten minutes before Justin Credible won the title. Weather Dreamer gets a long title reign or not is irrelevant at this point because it’s just great to see him as the ECW champion. Without a doubt Dreamer deserves the title because he gives it 100% every time he steps in the ring and he’s done so throughout his entire career.
The next title change was VERY unexpected when Batista defeated Randy Orton to win the WWE title. I don’t see the logic in this because Orton was deemed “the chosen one” so to speak and so much so that Mr. Kennedy…Kennedy was fired for botching a suplex on Orton but now, barely two months after winning the title, the WWE has Orton drop the belt to Batista. To many things even more puzzling, it’s now being reported that Batista sustained a torn bicep muscle in a match BEFORE his title match with Orton and Batista will be getting surgery to repair the injury this Tuesday. Okay, it appears obvious the WWE will have Batista drop the title on Raw but if Batista actually was injured BEFORE his match with Orton than WHY HAVE HIM WIN THE TITLE? Orton dropping the title a mere two months after winning it hurts his credibility as a main event star so I just don’t see the reason to have Orton drop the title at all, let alone drop the title to someone that is going to have a title reign that lasts less than twenty four hours. I know some will disagree with me here and that’s fine but in my view, Orton has yet to really cement himself as a long term main eventer, which I think is because of his botched push leading into Wrestlemania. The lack luster match with Triple H on the biggest stage in sports entertainment didn’t help Orton’s case either and when you consider that some have called the Orton/Tripe H match at Wrestlemania 25 to be “the worst Wrestle mania main event of all time”, it’s not difficult to understand why some doubt Orton’s ability to truly carry a brand or the company long term. Aside from that, at this point I don’t consider Orton on the same level as a John Cena or an Edge in terms of being able to be the main star of a brand. Don’t get me wrong here, if Orton is actually given a legitimate main event push without getting the rub pulled out from under him, he does have the potential to reach the level of an Edge or a Cena but I just don’t think he has reached that level at this point and weather or not he reaches that level remains to be seen. My only guess as to who the WWE will use to replace Batista as the main event face would be Triple H or Shawn Michaels but only time will tell what the WWE plans to do with the WWE title.
The next title change was even more surprising to me than Batista winning the WWE title and that title change is when Jeff Hardy won the World title. I have to say this before anything else, Jeff Hardy and Edge had an absolutely GREAT ladder match with a ton of innovative spots and they created some great drama with back and fourth action that kept you guessing how was going to win right up until the conclusion of the match. The main reason I was so surprised that Hardy won the title is that during a recent radio interview, Jeff had confirmed that he hasn’t signed a new deal with the company so it didn’t seem like the WWE would but the title on someone that could possibly be leaving the company soon. For the next title change, I have to give the WWE A LOT credit for there attention to detail for making Hardy’s win seem like the conclusion of the PPV. Anyone that watches WWE PPV knows that the shows usually end anywhere from 10:45-10:50 so when Hardy won the belt at 10:50 it was logical to assume that there wasn’t really enough time for anything else to happen in the broadcast. The WWE also had J.R. in the ring ready to interview Jeff, which was another indication that Hardy’s title win was the conclusion of the song. The familiar “This Fire Burns” theme song started playing and surprisingly, the show was not over. CM Punk cashed in his money in the bank title shot and defeated Hardy to win the world heavyweight title. This was a very intriguing series of events and it appears that the seeds have been planted for a Punk heel turn. The crowd even seemed a little unsure of weather they should be cheering Punk because he was proudly celebrating his win in the ring while Hardy was barely moving just a few feet away. If this does indeed spark a Punk/Hardy feud, I think the main focus of the storyline will be Punk using his clean life style to criticize Jeff for having two wellness policy violations due to Jeff’s well documented shaky past. It could be a really great feud from both a storyline and in ring stand point that would really be something new for the title picture on Smackdown.
I don’t usually recommend that someone spend $40 on a wrestling PPV but if you didn’t see Extreme Rules, you should. Order it, download it, watch it on Youtube, just make sure you get a chance to watch the show because it really was a great PPV.