The John Report:: WWE Over The Limit Preview

John: Welcome to the WWE Over The Limit Preview. There are five announced matches on the PPV portion on the show with a pre-show match also announced. I’d expect another one or two matches added to the show, but we’re not here to guess what might be added. We’re here to talk about what we know is going to be featured on Sunday’s PPV extravaganza. Joining me for the preview are TJRWrestling’s resident Smackdown reviewer Andrew Johnson and our former Smackdown writer who is now a retro PPV reviewing kind of guy, Christian Michael. Let’s roll.

Pre-Show: Kane vs. Zack Ryder

Andrew: Finally we have come to the raging climax that has been the 2012 most forgettable feud of the year. I’ve seriously forgotten more about Zack Ryder in the past five months than I have high school math, and I finished that garbage a decade ago. I don’t know who looked worse coming out of this feud earlier this year; Zack Ryder because he’s a spaz that doesn’t understand that if a 7 foot psychopathic wrestler is trying to murder you the best thing to do would be not show up in your wheelchair to the one place you’re sure he will be every week, Kane who did everything from dropping Ryder through a stage to tombstone him with a broken back and he still wasn’t able to cripple him indefinitely, or the WWE writers who don’t understand how the human body works.

This match will be 5 minutes long on the 30 minute pre-show, and will be sandwiched between four promo packages and a commercial for WWE Rumblers.

Winner: Kane

Christian: This was a hot feud and a match that people would have cared about. That was almost two months ago. This match should have happened at WrestleMania. Why is it happening now? It seems pretty pointless. Anyway, Zack never wins so why would this be any different?

Prediction- Kane

John: In terms of wrestling logic, the older guy should put over the younger guy in this match especially when one of them is nearly 20 years older like Kane is compared to Ryder. Perhaps they could even book this so that Zack wins in an upset…nah. That’s not going to happen. Kane will win a five minute match that means absolutely nothing.

Winner: Kane

WWE Tag Team Titles: Kofi Kingston & R-Truth vs. Jack Swagger & Dolph Ziggler

Andrew: If you read my weekly Smacking Of WWE Smackdown reviews (and if you don’t you really should, all the cool TJR readers are doing it) then you already know I’m not very excited for this match. Reason being that I don’t think either outcome is going to be either A) impactful or B) a benefit to those involved. Dolph and Swagger are both coasting right now, and while I find it acceptable with Swagger because I don’t find him all that impressive at the moment, it’s a goddamn travesty with Ziggler. This is a guy that should be in the main-event scene, and should be getting stomped by guys like Sheamus to make him look good. He deserves more than a half-hearted tag team title feud where your reward for winning is the burden of carrying around a giant penny belt buckle. Imagine how tough that is to get through airport security. You have to deal with the TSA agents rifling through your bags and laughing in your face.

On the other side is Kofi and R-Truth, who are neither as exciting as Air Boom nor as believable. Kofi and Evan Bourne got together because they were two guys with similar styles that had a common goal; reignite the fire in the tag team division. R-Truth and Kofi is a team of convenience, and it will only last until the Little Jimmy in Truth’s mind tell him Kofi is made of spiders and he beats the every loving f**k out of him. If they want me to buy into this team they need to do more than just be “black guys that team together” and be more about Kofi’s wariness in teaming with a legitimate lunatic. Those kinds of stories write themselves.

I’m not against tag team wrestling, but I am against feuds/teams that are made of convenience and nothing more. This is a match without substance or motivation. If I wanted to watch that kind of wrestling I’d watch IMPACT.

Winners: Dolph Ziggler & Jack Swagger

Christian: Why WWE keeps wasting my time with Dolph Ziggler in a tag team with Swagger is beyond me. Ziggler should be stealing the show in 20 minute matches on PPV. He has earned and proved it. The match should be well executed and entertaining but I don’t foresee a title change.

Prediction- R-Truth and Kofi Kingston retain the WWE Tag Team Championship

John: The tag division is improving, slowly but surely. I like all four guys in this match. They’re all veterans that can have good matches, so the chemistry will be there for sure. They’ll book it like a regular tag match where the heels focus on Truth or Kingston, they’ll get the hot tag and the champs will likely retain since they’re more of a permanent team. The ZigSwag team is okay, but like most people I think both guys would be better off as singles competitors. That’s especially true of Ziggler, who needs to do something to free himself of Vickie Guerrero. It’s nothing against her. It’s just that they’ve been paired together for so long that it doesn’t seem fresh. He’s too good of a performer to not be near the main event picture.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Primo & Epico dropping the titles to Truth & Kingston, but I would assume that they can go back to that feud after this match is done. Then they can incorporate some of the other teams (Usos, Young/O’Neil, Kidd/Gabriel since Gabriel is due back soon) to make it feel like an actual division again. As for this match, give them 12-15 minutes, let them tell a good story in the ring and you can pretty much guarantee a very good tag team wrestling match.

Winners: Kofi Kingston & R-Truth

WWE Divas Title: Layla vs. Beth Phoenix

Andrew: I really like looking at Layla and listening to her talk in that sexy accent, but that’s as far as I’m willing to take my admiration. She’s not exactly Alundra Blaze between the ropes. Hell, she’s not exactly Trish Stratus. But, she’s capable and hot so she’s got that going for her.

The Divas division is currently at a place where I’ve lost all interest in it. For the past few months I’ve at least been eagerly anticipating the Kharma return, but I’ve found myself at the point where I don’t really care if she comes back now. I’m tired of the fake outs and the delayed promises of Diva destruction. If I wanted to watch poorly planned stories with second-tier female wrestlers I’d… well I guess I’d watch IMPACT. Wow, that show is sloppy.

Winner: Layla

Christian: Where is Kharma? That’s what I want to know. As for this match, I like Layla but she’s generated no reaction from the crowd. Time for Beth to go back on top and bring back Kharma for the women’s feud we all want to see.

Prediction- Beth Phoenix becomes the new Divas Champion

John: Like I wrote on Monday, why should we cheer for Layla exactly? She was a heel before. She got hurt. She came back. She beat one of the Bellas in a forgettable match and all of a sudden she is Divas champion. Let her talk. It’s needed to build a character that was such a mean person for so long and is suddenly a smiling babyface. That’s what I mean by character development. There is no development among the divas. The expectation is that Kharma may be back soon. Who knows, though? They’ll likely get 5-7 minutes here with Beth working as the overpowering heel while Layla is the gritty babyface that fights back and manages to win with a cradle of some kind. The divas division continues to be a disappointment in terms of the booking. It’s not a talent issue. It’s a creative issue. For shame.

Winner: Layla

World Heavyweight Title Fatal 4-Way Match: Sheamus vs. Randy Orton vs. Chris Jericho vs. Alberto Del Rio

Andrew: Fatal 4-Way matches are a lot of fun when you’re playing WCW/nWo Revenge with your cousins, and three of you decide to team up on the one cousin that can’t quite figure out how to use the tentacle rape Nintendo 64 controller. On screen they aren’t as much fun. For the most part its opponent 1 vs. opponent 2, and opponent 3 vs. opponent 4, and then they switch it up sporadically. Sure they’ll throw in some double teams and triple teams, but it becomes kind of a nuisance for people like me, because I tend to pay a little too much attention to the details. If Alberto gets thrown out of the ring and is there for more than 5 minutes doing nothing, I’m going to wonder what the f**k his problem is. And if he isn’t just conserving energy to make a mad rush for the quick pin, it’s going to bother me.

So while the prospect of this match is cool, I hope they get around those things to make this something special instead of just a spot fest. I like 3 of these guys and am warming back up to the Irish one. So I hope it can keep my interest. As far as the finish goes I think this would be a good opportunity to get Sheamus into a feud with someone that can antagonize him and not make the crowd go “Meh.” Jericho is the right guy for that, which leaves Alberto and Randy a chance to feud and possibly bring to life that Ricardo/Orton/Wile E. Coyote/Road Runner scenario I’ve been hoping for.

Winner: Chris Jericho

Christian: They’ve been building Sheamus vs. Del Rio since before Extreme Rules. It interests me as to why they went with a Fatal 4 Way here. It would make more sense to have Jericho vs. Orton in their own match to lengthen and strengthen the PPV. The only thing I can think of is that they want to switch the title but don’t want Sheamus to lose it. I can see that. The match should be a lot of fun and I think someone will indeed sneak out of here the new champ.

Prediction- Chris Jericho becomes the new World Heavyweight Champion

John: If you want to continue to build Sheamus up as a top level babyface then he has to retain the title here. However, if you wanted to do that then why add Orton & Jericho to the mix when you already announced the match as Sheamus vs. Del Rio? The “you” in this case is WWE, who are obviously booking things without much long term planning, which is never a good thing. If there was long term planning why announce Sheamus vs. Del Rio in the first place? My guess is they realized they had nothing for Orton & Jericho to do, so they figured they should put them in this title match to give it some star power. I’m glad they did because the build has been pretty good. The tag matches featuring these guys have been solid and the Orton/Sheamus match from Smackdown was a 27 minute match that I’d rate at **** out of five. It was one of the best television matches of the year.

Personally, I’ve always liked four way matches with elimination rules. They’re more fun that way. The “first fall wins” idea that they go with is okay because they love having one wrestler pin somebody while one of the other two breaks it up. Then we get the dramatic pinning/submission sequences to end the match as well. We’ve seen the format of these matches many times before. Since we’re talking about four above average workers (Jericho and Orton are among the elite in WWE right now), I’d expect a high quality matchup. With the card having only five announced matches, that also likely means they’ll get 15-20 minutes of in-ring action too. I’m all for that. My prediction is Sheamus retains likely by pinning Del Rio. I think it’s very possible that Orton or Jericho will win too. Del Rio has little to no chance. Nothing would shock me in terms of one of the other three winning, though. My feeling is it’s too soon for Sheamus to lose the title. If you want to establish him as a tough babyface competitor then he should win here.

Winner: Sheamus

WWE Title: CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan

Andrew: This is the match that’s got the Internet collectively creaming its blue jeans. It’s also the match with probably the least amount of build-up aside from “these are indie and Internet darlings, look at them be small and main-event a PPV”. I assumed when this match was announced we’d see a good lead up where Punk showed up on Smackdown and helped build an enticing story to be paired up with their shared history, but instead we’ve been given a tag team match and loosely associated D-Bry punching bag AJ trying to coax CM Punk’s little punk into some interest. I’m not saying this match isn’t going to be good, I’m just saying there isn’t a whole lot for people that don’t care about ROH or the Internet to latch on to.

However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that this match is going to be the balls. Every TV match they’ve had this year has been the highlight of the show, and anyone that didn’t buy Over the Limit for this match is going to be pleasantly surprised by what these guys bring to the table. I think it’s kind of obvious AJ is going to be involved in the match somehow, and that’s fine.

The popular theory right now is that she’s a D-Bry spy, and this whole breakup has been a façade to get Bryan’s opponents off guard when she inevitably aides the Dragon in getting the win. Which is a cool story idea, and I hope it’s what WWE is planning. I don’t say this often, but I hope nobody from creative reads this blog, because if they saw that the AJ/Bryan reunion is even slightly expected they might change it at the last second and have Bryan lose after getting shot by Maggie Simpson when it clearly should have been Mr. Smithers.

Winner: Daniel Bryan

Christian: The IWC’s dream match. Two Indy darlings headline a WWE PPV for the Championship. These two have probably wrestled a hundred times. Does WWE mention their history or do anything for that matter that makes a casual fan care about this match? No. It’s a joke. The match should be excellent if given time but why should anyone care? You might think I’m crazy but I’d rather they give us Punk vs. Khali if they give it the proper build and make us care about the winner as opposed to what they’ve done with this match. It’s a shame too because there’s a great built in story between these two.

Prediction- CM Punk retains the WWE Championship

John: On paper I love this match, of course. They are two of the internet’s darlings and I’m one of those people that would consider each guy among my favorite wrestlers. I followed their careers in Ring of Honor in the mid 2000s before they landed in WWE. Punk’s been in the company for six years. Bryan’s only been there for two years, yet he’s risen to the top and is as good of a performer as anybody in the business right now. Nobody is happier for either guy than I am.

With that said, the build for this match has been poor. Bryan won a Beat The Clock challenge to become number one contender. Since then they’ve had some interaction, but not enough for a WWE Title feud. This past Monday on Raw they didn’t get any promo time at all. On Smackdown, Bryan got to talk while Punk was in the ring. What about a face to face promo? Those mean more. This could feel like a big match. Due to the booking, though, it feels like one of the most poorly promoted WWE Title matches I can remember.

The good thing is despite the lack of a better build, the quality of the match is guaranteed to be high because of who we’re talking about. These guys always have excellent matches and when they are paired with eachother, as we’ve seen before, it’s a lock that it this will be great as well. The selling point is that the match will be outstanding, which is enough for me. It’s similar to the Orton/Christian match at OTL last year when they stole the show and the rest of the matches were below average. I get the feeling that we’ll get a rematch at next month’s No Way Out PPV. I’d expect Punk to retain, but don’t be surprised if the finish leads to a rematch in a steel cage in June. The last thing is I really hope they get 20 minutes or more of in-ring time. Let them do their thing. I have no doubt they can deliver the goods. I’m very excited for this one.

Winner: CM Punk

John Cena vs. John Laurinaitis

Andrew: John Cena shouldn’t be wrestling right now. I understand that this is his job and it’s what he lives for, but that’s exactly the problem. The dude is going through a divorce that seems like it’s going to get really nasty really fast, and being in a wrestling ring with a retired Executive VP of Talent Relations is not where his head should be right now. This job has to have taken a toll on his marriage, and any alcoholic will tell you that the last thing you need to cure your personal destruction is the thing that attributed to it in the first place. I’m not saying he needs to quit, I just think he needs some time off to get his house in order and maybe have a good cry. Because if he doesn’t take the time off to do this it’s going to affect his job, and in a few weeks he’s going to have a breakdown where someone is going to casually ask him how he’s doing and he’s going to be weeping on Kofi Kingston’s shoulder on live television or something.

This match is going to suck, and it shouldn’t be happening (for more reasons than the one mentioned above) but whatever. Maybe Lord Tensai will come down and spit in Cena’s face again, which I assume has the power to make you see your personal failings and how your personal choices brought upon your misery.

Winner: John Laurinaitis

Christian: This is the only match that’s been given any build on this PPV. I think we all assume Laurinaitis is going to win, but how? The stipulation that no superstar under contract can interfere means someone not “under contract” will help JL. The most obvious choice is Big Show. WWE doesn’t always go with the obvious but they should here. It gives Cena his next feud while continuing to keep him out of the title picture. Big Show should injure him so he takes a month off. That’s what should have happened at Extreme Rules. Cena lost a lot of the good will he got from the Lesnar match. The haters respected him after that match in a way we haven’t seen. Now that’s gone because of him not going away like he said. He needs a vacation for a variety of reasons and absence makes the heart grow fonder so it could be good for his character too. Hopefully this match is quick and to the point or it could get real ugly.

Prediction- John Laurinaitis

John: A guy named John previewing a match between two guys named John. I’d love it if I was wrong about this match going on last. It’s the Cena rule, though. Whatever match Cena’s in will usually go on last. That’s just how it is. They’ve cranked up the heelish behavior of Laurinaitis. He used to be the kind of smarmy heel that wasn’t upfront in terms of how he acted as a jerk. Now’s he’s more direct about it. Fans want to see him get his ass kicked. They will likely root for Cena, which is why this match is being done. It’s all about building up Cena as more of a likable guy. I’d expect a 12-15 minute brawling type match. Laurinaitis is 46 (on Smackdown he said he was nearly 40 – heels lie), hasn’t wrestled regularly in over a decade and likely has some rust although I’m sure he’s been working out a lot too. He is a former wrestler, so he can turn it on if he has to. The match won’t be great, but if it’s booked smartly then it will be fine.

As for the finish, as I wrote on Monday I think the obvious finish is Big Show showing up, making it look like he’ll go after Cena and then helping Laurinaitis win as a way to get his job back. Since the stipulation is that if Laurinaitis loses the match he’s fired I think it’s likely that he’ll win. The Show finish has become popular amongst internet types, though. One thing we’ve learned from WWE is they don’t mind changing plans if they realize people have guessed what might come. In this case, though, I hope they stick with the plan even though it will lead to another series of Show/Cena matches. I like Show better as a heel, so it will be fine with me. I’d be even happier if Cena got put out for a month or two to freshen him up. What if he gets hurt here, then he sits out two months and returns on the July 23 Raw that is the start of the new three hour Raw schedule? There are a lot of possibilities, but in terms of the prediction I’ll go Laurinaitis. I should point out too that I picked Cena over Rock and Lesnar over Cena. I was wrong in both cases. I’m pretty sure I’ll be right here. Right?

Winner: John Laurinaitis

Final Thoughts

Christian: I doubt I’ll order this PPV. If my friends order it, I’ll go over their house and watch it but this isn’t something I’ll spend money on. WWE has done a terrible job of making us care about this show. The one match they’ve invested time into is not something you’ll spend $45 on to see. Last year’s Over The Limit PPV, sans the Orton/Christian match, was the worst PPV of the year. I don’t think this year’s will be that bad but it will be just as forgettable.

John: I’m not that excited about this PPV. I think the Punk/Bryan match will be great in terms of in ring action obviously, but don’t know if the story is hot enough to allow them to have a match of the year contender. The fatal four way and tag matches should both be above average too, depending on how much time they get. The in-ring action won’t be the issue. The issue is the build for some of the matches, other than the “guys named John” match, has been lackluster. The crowd could be dead for a lot of it. At least we’re getting Punk vs. Bryan on PPV. That’s a positive for sure.

I’ll be writing about Over The Limit live on Sunday night starting at 8pmET, so join me on there for my full recap and analysis of the event.

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Andrew – @TheAEJohnson

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Thanks for reading. Enjoy Over The Limit.