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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: The PPV Perspective (Extreme Rules 4/15/13)
By The Doc
Apr 16, 2013 - 10:04:08 PM

Ladies and gentlemen, we're going to try something new. If you have read my work over the last three years, you have likely noticed my affinity for PPV. Growing up watching wrestling in the late 80s, my thoughts on the television product are that it basically should be the vehicle that entices me to spend money on a card from where most of the matches that comprise the year end "best of" list will come. In this busy stage of my life, I do not have time to watch six hours of WWE TV, so I compartmentalize. I make liberal use of the fast-forward button and mostly catch the promo segments (with about one-to-two exceptions per week for guys like Antonio Cesaro, PPV caliber matches, and bouts such as Ziggler vs. Daniel Bryan). Part of the reason is that, in the back of my mind, I know that I will get my in-ring performance fix once a month on PPV, be it via my own personal order button or at the sports bar. So, since I cannot possibly come up with 30 Thoughts (God bless you, Al) and I've done more Raw/SD/PPV reports than anyone this side of Meltzer and Keller, I introduce a column that keeps the PPV in mind, while watching the various hours of TV, that better fits my current schedule.

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As of the post-Wrestlemania Raw, I had no plans to order Extreme Rules. I spent my vacation fund on a well-planned trip to NY/NJ, had a blast, and returned to NC ready to skip a PPV or two. As exciting as the Izod Center crowd was, nothing happened that made me immediately hyped for May's event. The only thing that had me thinking twice was my desire to support Dolph Ziggler's title reign, but he is not likely to be given any credit for the buyrate, anyway.

My stance changed when I watched last night and saw that Ryback's attack on John Cena last week was not a babyface simply making his intentions clear. Ryback turned heel. In his pre-taped promo, Ryback gave us everything we needed to know about his intent and his motives. And now I'm interested. I thought Ryback should have turned heel last fall, based on the philosophy that it works well to have a guy getting over big as a babyface, but for whom there are far too many obstacles in his way to become champion in the short-term, make a turn that draws the ire of the fanbase, yet simultaneously further invests the people in his character, so that when he does return to the forces of good, his chances of success are that much greater. The Rock was a great example back in 1998. He was getting crazy reactions as a fan favorite, but abruptly joined the Corporation, making him a mega heel but putting him in the position to break out as a babyface in 1999 thanks, in part, to the greater investment in his persona by the audience resulting from his heel turn. With John Cena, The Rock, Triple H, and Taker in Ryback's way as of last October, turning on Cena made sense to me. However, I'm glad that they waited. This gives us something big after Mania season ended.

I've made no secret that I really don't like Ryback. I thought his feud with Punk was all Punk; a by-product of the "Best in the World's" historic run. I have never dug it when a babyface starts his own chant to get a reaction, which Ryback did all the time. Last night's Ryback, though? I can get into that. He has built up a mystique in the last year, even if he was losing a lot in the last few months. Put one-on-one against anyone, the mystique suggests that he's unlikely to lose. He's got that odd twitch about him, too, as if he has Tourette's syndrome. I actually think it makes him look more intimidating; like he could snap and kill someone by accident. Cena is second only to Undertaker when it comes to "if push comes to shove, this guy is winning" mystique (which is why I want to see them go at it next year for Mania XXX). In pitting Ryback against Cena, something will have to give.

I will say this of Ryback - I enjoy seeing fresh talents get their shot. Make no mistake about it: this feud is Ryback's shot. If he excels, I think he will be around in the main-event for as long as he's able. That's what is at stake for him. I hope that he can do it, if for no other reason than for the sake of seeing another fresh face definitively make it to the top.

This feud should give Cena something to sink in his teeth into, creatively, after coming off two straight years of having a match with The Rock looming large at wrestling's Super Bowl. It reminds me, from a workrate standpoint, of the challenge he had six years ago when put opposite of Bobby Lashley. Cena carrying Lashley to an excellent title match at the Great American Bash in '07 was the bout in which Cena turned the corner into the (unbelievably) underrated worker that he is today. I was blown away by that match. I think Cena has a similar challenge against Ryback. Punk was not really given the chance to have a standout match against him last fall, but I suspect Cena will throughout the spring. I challenge the haters that still think Cena can't wrestle to wager with me on an over/under general critical response of ***1/2. Any takers?

It recently came to my attention that Extreme Rules is not until May 19th - which gives them plenty of time to properly build this feud's first chapter. When combined with Ziggler's first title defense and a cage match between Triple H and Brock Lesnar, Cena vs. Ryback has turned my thoughts upside down on watching next month's PPV. As of right now, I'm sold.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Are you interested in a Ryback vs. John Cena match for the WWE Championship? Why or why not?

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