The Katz Files – Arnie Katz
My Extreme Rules Recap & Analysis!
The Kingfish Arnie Katz reports on what happened in New Orleans and explores the meaning behind what fans saw and heard of Extreme Rules..
Extreme Rules did it again – changed all three major titles in one night. In fact, the belts moved a total of four ties during the three-hour telecast from New Orleans.
More importantly, the matches came off very well. The Batista-Orton match was short, which kept it from hitting its predicted grade, but only the Hog Pen match was actually bad.
Let’s look at what happened at Extreme Rules, see how my predictions went and delve into the Meaning of It All.
An amped-up Jack Korpella welcomed fans to the Free-for-All. Korpella seemed unusually lively for this half-hour preview, using props and making quip.
The videos and his spiels emphasized the showdown between Batista and Randy Orton. John Cena versus Big Show got the second-most push.
The show also ran a clip of the finish of Rey Mysterio against Edge on the 6/5 Smackdown. This included Jeff Hardy’s attack on Edge.
The Kingfish comments: Jack Korpella really showed some chops this time. He usually does a decent, workmanlike job, but this “Free for All” suggests that he may have a bigger future with WWE than had been supposed previously.
The promotion for Cena-Show struck me as a little strange. They didn’t promote it as a match so much as a John Cena quest. They didn’t really present it as a contest between two wrestlers, but as a trial for a hero. It made the match seem more like a plot point in an adventure novel than a wrestling contest.
This is a dangerous way to hype a match, because it makes fans think of the opponent as a speed bump rather than a fighter who has offensive strategies of his own.
After a female narrator spouted some pseudo poetry, Michael Cole welcomed fans to New Orleans and Extreme Rules. They showed a video package and then called for the combatants in the Fatal Fourway for the Intercontinental Championship.
Kofi Kingston d. MVP & William Regal & Matt Hardy
United States Championship
Fatal Four Way
The Story: Kofi Kingston took the gold from MVP in a hard-fought match on the 6/1 RAW. William Regal and Matt Hardy, who recently formed a tag team, both want to get their hands on the coveted belt.
My Prediction: The key to the outcome of this match is likely to be the title change that took place on RAW. Switching around the title before the fourway seems especially odd. It makes me think that neither of the two babyfaces will walk out of the arena with the belt. In that event, the most likely winner would be Matt Hardy. If he wins, he has two ready-made challengers in MVP and Kofi Kingston.
Predicted Grade: B
The Actual Match: Kofi took out Regal with a Dropkick, rolled on top of him and earned the pin and the win.
Many near falls and high spots made this a very lively and exciting curtain-jerker.
Actual Grade: B
The Kingfish comments: The match started a little sloppy, but it straightened out quickly and kept up a fast pace. Everyone looked good, at least part of the time, in this one, even William Regal. He got rid of Hardy and MVP to set up the slam-bang finish.
This booking leaves WWE in a very good position to exploit the I-C title. MVP will certainly get a re-match, though it might not actually be against Mysterio. Regal can claim that his performance earned him a one-to-one shot, which would probably happen on an episode of RAW Matt Hardy would be a good opponent for Kofi Kingston at The Bash.
Big Show told Josh Mathews, in an interview, that he would embarrass John Cena in their match. He put a lot of emphasis on the fact that Cena could not possibly apply his finisher.
The Kingfish comments: Talk about piling on!
Chris Jericho d. Rey Mysterio
No Holds Barred
The Story: Chris Jericho took deadly aim at the Masked superstar from the minute the draft reassigned him to Smackdown. His first attempt to take the Intercontinental Championship failed, but Jericho thinks he can make up for it with a smashing victory here.
My Prediction: Unless this is some sort of punishment exercise, it doesn’t seem likely that Chris Jericho will lose to Mysterio a second time in a row.
Jericho will win the title, but he won’t unmask Mysterio. Look for a third, “rubber” match coming to a pay per view near you.
Predicted Grade: A-
The Actual Match: Todd Grisham followed up a video of Jericho’s attempt to unmask Mysterio from the beginning of June, with the observation that Jericho wanted both the gold and Rey’s mask. Additional comments stressed the symbolic significance of the mask.
The match ended when, after hitting the 619, Rey Mysterio attempted the West Coast Pop. Chris Jericho nailed him with the Code Breaker in midair!
Art the same time, Lionheart removed Mysterio’s mask and, in the confusion, scored a title-winning pin. Mysterio covered his face and rolled out of the ring.
Actual Grade: A
The Kingfish comments: My only serious quibble with the booking of this match is the way it under-valued the importance of Rey Mysterio’s mask.
This is a perfect example of saying one thing, at tedious length, and then doing another. They said the mask meant a lot – and then treated it like it was nothing. The removal of the mask of a star of Mysterio’s magnitude should’ve been a huge moment. Instead, it was a minor sidelight of Jericho’s title win.
Josh Mathews narrated a video about what Randy Orton, aided by DiBiase and Rhodes, did to Ric Flair on RAW. An emotional Batista then told the announcer that he planned to exact revenge for what had been done to his mentor.
The Kingfish comments: The Flair incident, though it seemed pretty contrived on RAW did one good thing; it gave Batista a believable stake in the match with Orton beyond just getting Punted. Making him into the defender of the McMahon Family didn’t work very well, because he has no historic connection with them.
C.M. Punk d. Umaga
Samoan Strap Match
The Story: Umaga has dogged CM Punk ever since the huge Samoan returned to the ring after recuperating from an injury. He has meddled in Punk’s business and cost him a lot in the quest to recapture a title.
My Prediction: It doesn’t seem like this match could end the feud on a satisfactory note, so it has to be looked at in the context of a match that is going to lead to more matches and a definitive ending. Since Umaga would be expected to win, Punk can get more out of a victory. One possible idea would be to have CM Punk win the match and get mauled by Umaga in a post-match beatdown.
Predicted Grade: B
The Actual Match: The match proceeded pretty much dead even. CM Punk’s speed and strikes balanced Umaga’s raw strength and ferocity.
Each man got two corners and then they each got within inches of tapping a fourth and final corner to win the match.
It ended when CM Punk, after touching three turnbuckles, stunned Umaga with the Go to Sleep. He touched the final one for the win before Umaga could recover from the finisher.
Actual Grade: B-
The Kingfish comments: Like many such contests, this one didn’t come across all that exciting. Maybe they should’ve spent less energy trying to convince fans that “this is Umaga’s kind of match,” when it wasn’t anything that unusual or peculiar to Samoa.
To give earned credit; At least they didn’t have the wrestlers carry each other around the ring to touch the corners. Each man touches three and the babyface some how gets the fourth one before the heel can.
Christian talked to Gregory Helms, working as an announcer, about his coming match against Jack Swagger and Tommy Dreamer. He said that some thought he was in a dilemma about what to do concerning his “long-time friend” Tommy Dreamer. Christian quipped that he guessed he would just have to say good-bye to Dreamer after beating him.
Tommy Dreamer d. Christian & Jack Swagger
Tommy Dream must win to avoid mandatory retirement
The Story: Swagger and Christian, have waged a battle for the ECW Championship, now held by Christian. Into this volatile situation comes a human powder keg, Tommy Dreamer. The Innovator of Violence, already hot to hold the title, now has extra motivation in the form of that retirement stip.,. He can’t just avoid losing; he must win to keep his spot!
My Prediction: I don’t see Tommy Dreamer retiring at this time, though he is probably nearing that point in the next couple of years, so he has to win the match. And since this is hardcore rules, he will have to win by pinfall or decision, taking the belt in the process. If I were booking this, a wrestling legend from ECW’s past would come out and tip the balance in favor of Dreamer, but I think it is more likely that WWE bookers will simply have Swagger and Christian take out each other so that Dream can apply the coup de grace to one of them.
Predicted Grade: B+
The Actual Match: After a short preliminary, all three men grabbed weapons and began to bombard the other two with weapons. Dream wielded the Singapore Came with brutal efficiency.
When Jack Swagger rushed at Tommy Dreamer with a trash can. The Innovator of Violence stopped him in his tracks with a well-placed low Singapore Cane shot! Swagger hardly missed a beat he dealt Dreamer a Belly-to-Belly Suplex onto a trash can!
Jack Swagger thought he might put away Dreamer with a Suplex. Tommy blocked it, hit one of his own, threw in a Cane shot and scored the pin to become ECW Champion and stave off retirement a little longer!
Actual Grade: B+
The Kingfish comments: A good guess is that Christian and Swagger will meet each other again while Dreamer faces, and loses to, the challenge of Vladimir Kozlov.
Backstage, Vicki Guerrero warmed up like a boxer for her match with Santina Morella. Chavo taunted her to get her to punch harder. The RAW general manager got tired of the abuse and zapped her nephew in the nose.
Vickie Guerrero vs. Santina Marella
Hog Pen Match
The Story: Santino Marella has stirred the pot with repeated comments about Vickie Guerrero’s resemblance to a pig. Now the RAW general manager will try to take out her wrath on Santino’s “twin sister” in a match with the honor of being “Miss WrestleMania as the prize.
My Prediction: This is definitely my “
Bathroom Break Special” of the pay per view. You can go to the bathroom (or the kitchen) and know that you won’t be missing anything.
Since it doesn’t matter who wins this alleged “comedy spot,” it’s very hard to predict. There’s going to be a lot of slot slung around the ring. Santina will take some and so will Vickie Guerrero.
It doesn’t seem possible that Chavo Guerrero won’t get involved after the lengthy build-up on RAW in recent weeks. Chavo will throw the bucket at Santina and Vickie will get caught by the barrage of filth.
Predicted Grade: C
The Actual Match: Vickie Guerrero came dressed in a fancy gown. She made t a handicap match and sent Chavo, still in his street clothes, into the hog pen with Santina.
After a good deal of fumbling around, Chavo accidentally threw a bucket of slops at his aunt. After a little more thrashing, Santina pinned Vickie.
Actual Grade: D
The Kingfish comments: This pretty much lived down to advance apprehension. I doubt it contributed to Vickie’s decision to retire, but it couldn’t have given her much incentive to stay.
A long video recounted the saga of Orton-Batista.
Goldust and Hornswoggle approached Vickie Guerrero and Chavo Guerrero argued about who was at fault during their match, Goldust wanted Vickie to sign some expense forms.
When Vickie reached her office, she found her husband waiting. “Two months away from me and look what you’ve become,” Edge said about his disheveled and mire-covered wife.
Vickie said she wasn’t going to help him plan strategy for his match. Edge told her to consult a divorce lawyer.
Batista vs. Randy Orton
The Story: The tangled web of this feud stretches back many months to Randy Orton’s vendetta against the McMahon family. Batista stepped in when Triple H went to the sidelines, but The Animal has a very personal score to settle, too. Orton punted him into a major hiatus in his career. Now that he’s back, he plans to get serious payback. The match is in the Steel Cage, so the two combatants can rip into each other without distractions. The question is whether Batista’s strength can overcome Orton’s guile.
My Prediction: I don’t think WWE will change both the WWE and World titles at the same card again, at least not so soon after doing so. A Hardy victory, therefore, implies a Batista loss.
What that does is make me doubt by prediction of a Jeff Hardy win, because everything is in place for a Batista victory. The Animal’s allies are down and Orton is on a roll. The cage hasn’t stopped outside interference in the past, but I think Ric Flair and a returning Triple H will negate Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase.
I’ll predict an Orton win, but the outcomes in the double main event will de[end on which one is the last match on the card. The babyface will win whichever contest brings the show home.
Predicted Grade: A-
The Actual Match: Batista pulled out all the stops in this match. He overcame Randy Orton’s opening gambit – a quick climb over the cage – and dished out a variety of punishing maneuvers.
The champion fought a largely defensive battle that could not hold off The Animal’s thirst for revenge. The match reached its climax when Batista smashed Orton’s face against each of the cage’s four metal walls and then finished his hated adversary with a BatistaBomb.
Dave Batista, the new champion, held the belt aloft as he called out to Ric Flair. “This is for you, Ric! This is for you!”
The Kingfish comments: Finding out that Batista had a serious, undisclosed injury puts this match into sharp perspective. The animal and the now former champion did a spectacular job to do as well as they did, even if the match wasn’t much longer than the recap video that preceded it.
The video detailed the multiple-match series between Cena and Big Show.
John Cena vs. Big Show
The Story: Big Show has moved from Smackdown to RAW, but it hasn’t affected the long-running feud he has with John Cena. General Manager Vickie Guerrero has lined up yet another clash between the two. Many believe that John Cena can’t physically apply a submission move due to Show’s size, but WWE’s most popular performer is not going to back down from the World’s Largest athlete.
My Prediction: The deck is stacked so heavily in favor of Big Show that fans would Go to Sleep without benefit of CM Punk. So the battered and woozy Cena will have to find some way to end it without resort to either of his two well-known finishers.
The easiest way to handle it would be to let Cena clamp on a Crossface. How about having Cena use those mighty arms to apply a Sleeper Hold?
Predicted Grade: B-
The Actual Match: Although John Cena dominated a good portion of the match, his repeated attempts to apply the STF all came up short. Literally.
Big Show got in some telling blows, including a roundhouse punch that sent Cena to the arena floor. This didn’t prove to be a potential count-out, though, and John soon carried the fight to the World’s Largest Athlete with the Five-Knuckle Shuffle and a couple of Attitude Adjustments. That barrage didn’t cause Show to tap, but it did weaken the big guy.
Finally, Cena caught the semi-conscious Big Show near the ropes and tied up one huge foot in the bottom and middle ropes. Then Cena applies what amounted to a Crossface and quickly wrung a submission from his mammoth rival.
Actual Grade: B+
The Kingfish comments: John Cena tried a Sleeper Hold at one point, but that only meant that I’d whiffed on that part of my prognostication.
I can’t assign much meaning to this match, because there really isn’t one. They just keep fighting and, for the last three encounters, Cena keeps winning.
I don’t think it would offend fans if this feud were allowed to end on what was definitely a high note.
Edge vs. Jeff Hardy
The Story: Jeff Hardy and Edge have fought relentlessly, viciously, for month after month. Now they face each other again in a match both feel they have mastered.
My Prediction: A loss in a ladder match is one of the least damaging defeats, though neither Edge nor Hardy would like to lose a Ladder Match. The reason is that no one gets pinned or submitted. The loser can charge it all off to luck (or something0 and demand a rematch.
In that light, the right booking is for Jeff Hardy to win the World Championship. Edge would get a rematch at Night of Champions, where he would recapture the coveted title. With any luck, Matt Hardy will not interfere in this match.
Predicted Grade: A
The Actual Match: After the obligatory long set-up video, the long-time antagonists assembled for the match in a ring surrounded by a great number of ladders.
After some tentative sparring, Hardy hit the match’s first major move, a devastating Front Suplex. That set the tone for the entire match, with each man trying to incapacitate the other in order to get enough time to climb one of the ladders.
In one of many great sequences, Jeff climbed a ladder to get the belt, but Edge mounted a turnbuckle. When the champion launched a Flying Spear, Jeff Hardy uncorked a mid-air Twist of Fate!
Some of it looked pretty brutal. Edge put Hardy between the legs of a toppled ladder and used it like a nutcracker. It looked like a machine for generating Con-chair-tos.
Another great spot occurred when Hardy set up a ladder upside down in the ring. He then propelled Edge into the unyielding steel. The ladder’s cross-brace nearly cut Edge in half.
The match ended when Hardy tried to knock Edge off the other side of a ladder and succeeded in tangling the champion in the metal. That left no obstacle to prevent Jeff Hardy from seizing the belt and reclaiming the championship!
Actual Grade: A
After the match, CM Punk rushed to the ring with a referee at his side. He invoked his title match clause, won at WrestleMania 25 in the “Money in the Bank” match.
Jeff Hardy couldn’t defend himself against Punk’s two Go To Sleeps. Punk covered Hardy and rose the new World Heavyweight Champion!
That’s it for today. I’ll be back on Monday with another installment of the Internet’s fastest-rising pro wrestling column hope you’ll come back – and, please, bring your friends.
— Arnie Katz