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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: The PPV Perspective (Extreme Rules 5/6/13) - Watch PPVs but Stop Watching Raw?
By The Doc
May 7, 2013 - 10:36:04 PM

A couple of weeks ago, I threw out a potential wager to anyone willing to bet me that Cena vs. Ryback would meet or exceed the ***1/2 mark (the terms have been defined as the average of the main Torch and Observer ratings). I'm feeling pretty good about that after seeing Ryback deliver against Daniel Bryan. I won't lie; I was swayed by all the good feedback. I might not have paid that close of attention otherwise, as I rarely watch SD with much more than a passing interest these days. It was a high quality piece of work and I concur with it being the best match in Ryback's young career. That's the blueprint that Cena needs to follow, making sure that he's competitive instead of channeling his inner small man like he has done against bulkier talents in the past. Cena is obviously not the wrestler that Bryan is, but he's every bit the performer and steps up in big match scenarios. If the booking is on point at Extreme Rules, then I like the odds of Cena vs. Ryback delivering on my star rating prediction. (Note - details of the actual wager have yet to be defined; any more takers?)

5/6/13: Two weeks to go

Another paint-by-the-numbers show is in the books, most of which I was fast-forwarding through. I sat down to watch Raw at 9:45 and caught up with the live action by 10:15, as I chose to skip most of what John Cena said after going into his goofy mode, all of what Vickie Guerrero said as it has, excuse me, now been four years and counting since she was last interesting, and all of the latest example of the WWE's "how to make my World Champion look like a mid-carder" routine.

As the show was coming to a close in what seems like the exact same way as it did three of the last four weeks - with Ryback's snarling face - I could not help but look at the PPV card in my mind's eye and mumble to myself, "That actually looks pretty damn good, on paper." It's an interesting predicament to want to see the PPV product in spite of the boring booking that's supposed to make me excited about it. God bless you guys that thought Wrestlemania's booking was boring. If you couldn't suspend your disbelief and let the "Showcase" bug into your system, then you must be a step away from tucking the replica belt and your "Wrestling Buddy" collection in an ironclad lock box and throwing away the key. It's a good thing that the NBA Playoffs are on to act as a buffer for the WWE these past two weeks; I shudder to think where I'd be at with this product, mentally, if it were not for something to distract me from its blandness. It certainly isn't making the PPV look more attractive. Yet, the PPV itself still does look attractive. Here's the line-up:

-Ryback vs. Cena (Last Man Standing) - Cena's money gimmick makes my opening paragraph-reiterated prediction that much stronger. That should deliver.

-Trips vs. Lesnar (Steel Cage) - Depending upon its placement on the card, this match could gain a boost from a crowd that won't be seeing much star power until then. I like the chances of this being the best in their series.

-Dolph vs. Swagger vs. Del Rio (Ladder match) - This could easily steal the show given the talent involved and I would imagine Dolph will be hungry to make his mark since he hasn't been given the chance on TV.

-Sheamus vs. Mark Henry - Underrated feud that isn't hokey in the least; just a battle between two guys that have developed a simple beef and need to settle it. They had good matches in 2011.

-Randy Orton vs. Show - Check the stats: Orton may be a mid-carder, now, but he's still delivering the goods on PPV from his lower position (see bouts with Ziggler and Del Rio eight months ago).

-The Shield vs. Team Hell No - Not yet booked, but expected to add beef to the card as one of the better hyped matches and should be noteworthy due to the Shield's likely first taste of gold.

That's a damn good card, if you ask me. By and large, the WWE has done a very nice job putting together strong PPV cards, even if the TV product has not made them look worthy of $45-$55. Last year, I skipped several shows, but went back and watched them later to find that there was some very good stuff that I missed live. CM Punk (whose presence is sorely missed right now) was interesting enough to keep TV interesting enough to sit through, as was the unexpected brilliance of Daniel Bryan's character. Add in the in-ring performances of Ziggler, Antonio Cesaro, and Punk/Bryan and 2012 ended up being pretty good from my viewpoint. There was enough on Mondays to keep me tuning in every week and enough on Sundays to make me watch all but three PPVs.

The saying goes that you should stop watching if you don't enjoy the product, but that is always stated in the context of putting the kibosh on the whole shebang. What about just skipping the TV altogether and just watching the PPVs? That would cut down on a lot of fast-forwarding. And since that would be a good way to express my distaste for the lousy TV product, would that be so crazy? It's not cost effective, but I have enjoyed all the PPVs for which I've tuned in. I've got little issue with what they're giving on PPV. My issue is with TV. I did some quick math and 95% of the legitimate candidates for MOTY in the last five years have come from PPV. All the best wrestling comes on Sundays. Something to think about. Thoughts?

In all honesty, the only feud that's furthering I enjoyed last night was Mark Henry vs. Sheamus. Henry is the best character in the WWE, at the moment. Hell, there's not many personas that are interesting in the slightest, right now, so let's make a list.

Top 5 Most Interesting WWE Characters (5/6)

1) Mark Henry
2) Ryback
3) Antonio Cesaro (some emotion and fire in that promo!)
4) The Shield
5) Paul Heyman

Henry doesn't seem fake, to me. He's a good example of taking a piece of your natural personality and enhancing it for the purposes of better television. When he speaks, you're attention is in his command. For that reason, I want to see him tackle some major feuds this year with Cena and Punk. I think he could hold his own on the microphone with those guys. When you get guys that are comfortable in their own skin engaging each other verbally, good things happen. It's why I enjoy Punk vs. Cena each and every time they got to that well. Last night, Henry made some good points about Sheamus, seemingly insinuating that the Celtic Warrior is phony. Well, you won't get any argument out of me. I think Sheamus is a goof until he steps into the ring and stops talking. I keep waiting for someone to get into Sheamus' head and challenge him to stop trying to be an unadaptable, never fazed, white meat babyface. Nobody can relate to him. Perhaps Henry can, as everything that Henry said about him was spot on.

The "on paper" piece of the puzzle may be of greater influence to me than the TV product for Extreme Rules, but I really need to see something interesting next week from the top feuds. Henry vs. Sheamus as the most engaging battle is unacceptable, though it does add depth to the card.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: How much have you noticed CM Punk's absence in the last few weeks?

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