This past Sunday was WWE Over The Limit, the 3rd WWE Pay Per View in a 50 day span. That in and of itself isn't a big problem. I love watching wrestling, as you all know by now, and a good Pay Per View can still suck me in. The problem lies in the strength of storyline. It's not impossible to make a strong storyline in a 2-3 week period, far from it actually. Going into Over The Limit, WWE was changing quite a few storylines. On the RAW Brand, the focus changed off of CM Punk versus Chris Jericho and John Cena versus Brock Lesnar, and to a lesser extent CM Punk versus John Laurinaitis, to CM Punk versus Daniel Bryan and John Cena versus John Laurinaitis. On the Smackdown Brand, the focus moved from Sheamus versus Daniel Bryan to Sheamus versus Randy Orton mainly. With that many storyline shifts, the 2-3 week period they gave for Over The Limit build simply wasn't enough.
Let's look at what happened on the show itself first:
Pre-Show: Kane defeated Zack Ryder via pinfall in 6:55.
Christian wins a People Power Battle Royale for a shot at the Intercontinental Championship.
Kofi Kingston and R-Truth defeated Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger via pinfall in 12:15 to retain the WWE Tag Team Championships.
Layla defeated Beth Phoenix via pinfall in 7:10 to retain the WWE Diva's Championship.
Sheamus defeated Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, and Alberto Del Rio via pinfall in 15:55 to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
Brodus Clay defeated The Miz via pinfall in 4:10.
Christian defeated Cody Rhodes via pinfall in 7:30 to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
CM Punk defeated Daniel Bryan via pinfall in 23:55 to retain the WWE Championship.
Ryback defeated Camacho via pinfall in 1:50.
John Laurinaitis defeated John Cena via pinfall in 17:00.
A healthy focus of the past few weeks has been solidly on the Laurinaitis versus Cena feud, that was built strongly enough. With WWE cooling down after burning so many dates off of Brock Lesnar's contract, something had to give. Enter the "Lesnar sues WWE, Heyman sues Triple H" storyline. I'm okay with that, even if the way it was handled was abrupt and annoying. Moving to Laurinaitis versus Cena wasn't a natural progression but I was okay with it. It did ignore the CM Punk/Big Johnny feud completely though, more on that later. As for the match itself, it was okay for what it was, which is a comedy match that highlighted Big Johnny's lack of skill and John Cena's Never-Give-Up'ness. The Big Show interference was transparent and didn't seem to surprise anyone, save one or two people in the front row that pulled the best Joey Ryan I've seen in quite some time. I can't say that I'm particularly interested in seeing Cena versus Big Show again. It's never been a very entertaining feud and I don't suspect that this time will be any different. Both men face obvious limitations in the ring and will not be able to anchor a Pay Per View lineup as the Main Event. They both have their positives but this isn't it.
As for CM Punk, he moved on to Daniel Bryan, which is a dream scenario for many long term fans of both men. When you've seen two guys wrestle several times in bingo halls and rec centers, it's truly a special moment to see them headline a major event in a big arena. There was absolutely no true build given to this storyline though. I know that they tried on Friday night to give it a little push at the 11th hour but it can firmly be filed in the "too little, too late" category. For some fans, Punk versus Bryan needs absolutely no build, there is just so much history between the two. For the casual WWE fan though, unfamiliar with their history in Ring of Honor and other small promotions, this program needs at least some background. WWE doesn't often make it a point to book to what the "internet fan" wants, and if they do, they quickly dispatch the storyline, or worker, or gimmick before it gets too popular. All I'm saying is, if you want us to care about the WWE version of Punk vs. Bryan, give us some WWE background to it. It can be so much more than a 5 Star match, trust me. Also, it should be mentioned that the backstage segments with Punk and A.J. (formerly Daniel Bryan's "girlfriend") during the week and on the Pay Per View itself took a lot of focus off the match. I know that I thought she would get involved in this one at some point and it seemed like the crowd expected it as well. I would suspect that we are headed to a rematch with these two next month at No Way Out in either a Cage or perhaps an Ironman Match. Both stipulations will add to what is already a great encounter and would also let A.J. get involved in the match, which seems like the obvious build for this feud.
Sheamus, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, and Alberto Del Rio put on a pretty damn good match too. This might've been the match of the night if it didn't take place on the same show as Punk versus Bryan. Each man was made to look strong in his own way and each had at least one close fall that really made you think anyone could win this thing at any moment. I somewhat question the decision to have Sheamus go over as he really hasn't gotten the sort of crowd reactions you'd expect from someone who went over at Wrestlemania in 18 seconds. Sheamus has been booked to the moon since Wrestlemania and it just hasn't translated into much love from the live crowds. Jericho and Orton routinely get better, more desirable responses from the crowd and would still make for great champions. Based on how things went at RAW last night, I would assume we are headed towards a rematch of this one, or maybe even a Sheamus-Orton-Del Rio triple threat. It's not the direction I would go but I think it's one possibility. If it were me, I would pull the trigger on dropping the belt to Orton and maybe pair that with a heel turn. The only thing that will get Sheamus over the way he needs to be right now is a solid foil. Orton can be that guy. The other possibility could be sending Sheamus to a heel turn and letting him play his natural role. Sheamus has never had issues getting people to hate him as a heel and he seems much more comfortable in the role. Either way, if they want to build towards Orton versus Sheamus at Summerslam, someone is going to have to turn or Sheamus will be buried in hate for that match.
The rest of the show, not to nitpick, was somewhat forgettable. Having Christian win the Battle Royale in his surprise return was nice but unnecessary. Before Christian got hurt he was routinely involved in the World Heavyweight Championship picture and shouldn't have to reestablish himself as a legitimate threat. I am a fan of it from the standpoint of freeing Cody Rhodes to do other things though. Cody is one of several guys on the cusp of being something special and needed to get rid of the white leather paperweight to do so. It looks like Cody is going to take some time off after the loss but whenever he does return, sooner or later, he is positioned to move up the card. I'm willing to wait and see on the Christian side of this but, as I said, it feels unnecessary and doesn't have an obvious path.
The Tag Team Championships have become so irrelevant that it's hard to get too invested in any of the matches involving them. Kofi and R-Truth have no heat behind them, very little tag team chemistry, and no suspense. The storyline with Abraham Washington and Primo/Epico sort of dictated that Kofi and Truth had to win this match, aside from the fact that Ziggler and Swagger have yet to win one big matchup since they've been paired together. This match was pretty good when Ziggler and Kofi were in together and somewhat of a snooze fest when they weren't. Both guys deserve better than to be thrown into a midcard tag team act and with the lack of main event depth on the RAW brand, it's puzzling that neither has been elevated as of yet.
The Pink Butterfly Championship match was good by WWE Women's standards. It was competitive, had some ring psychology, and was entertaining for a minute or two, but ultimately suffers from a lack of interest. None of the WWE Divas have any credibility since it's booked so much by the seat of the pants. Layla has gotten better in the ring than I remember, and is getting the push, but the crowd just doesn't care about her. Beth had the crowd at one point but has been booked so poorly that she isn't taken as a serious threat to anyone. The Diva's Division is an absolute mess and doesn't look to be pulling out anytime soon. I think the ship is beyond repair, even when Kharma does return.
Brodus Clay and The Miz was another throw away match with no heat. We've seen Brodus beat up on The Miz, Swagger, and Ziggler so much that there's no heat behind it. Nobody expected The Miz to win, and he didn't, so I guess that says all it needs to say. The Miz needs a refresh to his character so badly at this point that it's sad. The guy worked very hard, won the Championship, Main Evented Wrestlemania, and even went over John Cena at that Wrestlemania. If I told you all of that happened just a little over a year ago, I bet you'd have to think hard about it before you remembered that it's true. The Miz has been criminally underutilized for what his abilities are. He was one of the hottest acts in the business, and one of the best stories, and now he's just an after thought. I think Miz needs to go off TV for awhile, refresh, and then come back with a hot storyline. He'll be filming The Marine 3 any time now, that might be just the break he needs to get the ball rolling again.
The Ryback segment was good for what it was. Less Goldberg chants this week, which I suppose is good. It didn't bother me or make me excited, it just was.
So there you have it, another Pay Per View down for the WWE. It should be interested to see where they go for No Way Out in June, especially given the way RAW went down in flames last night. As always, leave me any comments, concerns, or suggestions, and follow me on twitter @MattB928.
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