Hog-Pen Match for the title of Miss Wrestlemania: Vickie Guerrero (c) vs. Santina: Did this have to be 4 and a half hours long? I understand WWE wanting to break up the stagnation of a wrestling PPV with some type of comedy or entertainment segment, but the problem here is that bit was neither comedic nor entertaining. It was long, drawn out, and needed to end. Santino is a great talent, and he is very funny, but playing a drag queen is not what got him over with the crowd. This is another example of WWE fixing something that isn’t broken. Let Santino be Santino, and work on adding depth to his character by allowing him to wrestle great matches, but please, for the love of God, no more of this Santina & Vickie Guerrero nonsense. 2 Stars.
Steel Cage Match for the WWE Title: Randy Orton (c) vs. Batista: When this match finished, my immediate reaction was honestly, "what the fuck was that?" However, it wasn’t until I found out that Batista went into the match injured that I had to renege on my initial thoughts and chalk this match up to a situation where WWE had their hands tied behind their backs. This was a heavily promoted and well hyped cage match between two of Raw’s top stars, so creative couldn’t very well scrap the match or run some type of quick, disappointing finish, so they did the best they could and kept the match short. The main thing I want to do in my reaction to this match, however, is go the unpopular route and defend WWE’s decision to book Batista over Orton. Reports are indicating that Batista is set for surgery tomorrow, and it will sideline him for enough time that he is going to have to either drop the title tonight or relinquish it as he did awhile back when he was on Smackdown. So WWE did not make the decision to put the strap on Batista thinking it would be a long term plan, as they knew he was injured going into the Cage Match. They were simply shaking things up and giving the crowd a hot shot title change that was unexpected. You also have to take into consideration that Orton is a heel who is booked as a coward and an opportunist. He strikes while his opponent is down and relies on the help of others to get his dirty work done. WWE could not have booked a clean Orton win over Batista without it completely burying The Animal. It remains to be seen how this will all play out on Raw tonight, but at the very least it has people talking and will hopefully have people watching to see the direction in which WWE travels. 5.5 Stars.
Submission Match: John Cena vs. Big Show: Predictable and lacked creativity. I shy away from using the word "predictable" too much because I feel like the Internet Wrestling Community falsely prides itself on being able to predict "everything" that happens on any given wrestling show, and my email inbox is filled with emails every day that generally contain some paraphrasing of the line "that was so predictable," or, "I totally predicted that whole show." Nostradamus would be rolling in his grave. However, in the case of Cena vs Show last night, I have to say the entire thing was surprisingly predictable. I really thought, and hoped, that WWE would change up what we’ve seen a thousand times now, and yet they did not. It was the same old match, with the same old finish, and all it served was to make Big Show look like the biggest chump on Raw. He’s the largest athlete in the world and yet I can’t remember the last time he’s won a high profile match. If I don’t care to see John Cena’s matches anymore because they always end the same way, then I really don’t want to see Big Show matches because they follow the same formula, with the difference being they travel at a snail’s pace to get to the finish. 4 Stars.
Ladder Match for the World Heavyweight Title: Edge (c) vs. Jeff Hardy: This was the match of the night. and an overall great ladder match from two of the top stars on Smackdown. A fantastic spot saw Hardy hit the Twist of Fate while Edge was flying through the air with a spear attempt. This was the one truly great match on the card, as I expected, and it proved that Smackdown is the superior brand in WWE right now as it showcased the better wrestling on the PPV. I’ll once again go against the grain here and say that I loved the way WWE booked Hardy over Edge and then had Hardy drop the title immediately to Punk. The Hardy win established that he’s a capable competitor and can defeat Edge in the confines of a ladder match, which gives Jeff a momentum boost should he continue to challenge for the title now that Punk is the current champion. If Edge had retained, then WWE would have given Punk the rub with the title win, but it would have come at the expense of burying Jeff Hardy, who I’m sure the company is trying very hard to keep on the Smackdown roster once his contract expires. 8.5 Stars.
Money In The Bank Cash-In: Jeff Hardy (c) vs. CM Punk: I have to admit I did not see this one coming, especially following the many title changes during the night and the title change that immediately preceded the cash-in. The majority of readers who have been emailing me their thoughts tend to dislike the decision to have Punk win the title, but it made me think, "people know he’s The Money in the Bank winner, so they had to expect he’d cash it in and most likely win at some point, right?" I don’t know, maybe I’m the only one who was not surprised to see Punk go over as soon as his music hit, because I think WWE wants to keep the idea of the Money in the Bank briefcase strong, as it has demonstrated a 100% success rate when cashed in. Another thing I want to respond to is the claim many are making that Punk will now most likely turn heel as a result of his title win against Hardy. There seems to be no evidence I can see that proves this hypothesis valid, as the match between Hardy and Punk was spontaneous, it was never a planned feud, and Punk would have faced either Hardy or Edge. The idea is that Punk knew both guys would be beat up after a match like they had, so he was seizing the vulnerability of the situation as opposed to Jeff Hardy himself. I think WWE still has no idea what Jeff is going to do in terms of re-signing with the company, so they are preparing a guy like Punk to possibly fill Hardy’s boots should he decide to hang them up. As I said about the Dreamer match, I am pleased to see Punk get the title win, I think he’s a talented guy, but I’m more concerned with how he will be booked as the champion rather than the way he was booked to become the champion. It will be interesting to see if guys like Dreamer and Punk can reign as true champions as opposed to paper champions.
Overall, this was a solid show by way of storytelling and unpredictable swerves, but it left a bit to be desired where the "Extreme" wrestling idea was concerned. Past PPV’s of this nature delivered more in terms of a hardcore presentation, and in the future, it is in this department where I hope WWE will improve. Out of a possible 9 stars, I give WWE’s 2009 "Extreme Rules" PPV 5.5 Stars.
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