Tonight, WWE starts its next yearly cycle of pay per views (ending with Wrestlemania each April) with its Extreme Rules event.  A few aspects of the show have me excited for the event, where others leave me feeling they could’ve done better.

The Good

I’m totally in favor of the Heavyweight Championship match between Jack Swagger and Randy Orton.  It should stand as a nice way for Jack Swagger to continue to get himself established in the main event while Randy Orton tries to increasingly put himself into the fans favor.  Hopefully Jack Swagger can find a way to establish more personality through this feud while extending his title reign a bit.  A win by Orton tonight would be a very wrong thing to do to the overall landscape of WWE, but it wouldn’t be the first time… and it wouldn’t be the first time Randy Orton was part of a title change that shouldn’t have occurred when it did.  Though he’s not a popular name with some people due to the events surrounding the end of his life, when Chris Benoit won the Heavyweight Championship, his reign was very short, ending with Randy Orton getting the belt for the first time.  Jack Swagger deserves to hold the belt at least another two months, and I wouldn’t even be disappointed if he won by count out or disqualification tonight.

With a Steel Cage Match between Edge and Chris Jericho on the card, you almost forget that neither of them has a World title.  This is a very good thing.  Not only are the matches between Edge and Jericho very entertaining and well-fought, but it’s good that WWE realizes that there can be matches on the card which help sell the event to viewers OTHER THAN WORLD TITLE MATCHES.  I’ll talk about this concept more towards the end of this article.  It doesn’t totally matter who wins this match, as either outcome could result in interesting possibilities.

The Street Fight between Triple H and Sheamus helps make it acceptable that Triple H won the battle between the two back at Wrestlemania 26.  If Triple H had won that match and their feud had ended, Sheamus wouldn’t have gained much from the encounter, but with a win at Extreme Rules tonight, he stands to gain in stature and provide another decent main eventer for the WWE landscape.  If Triple H loses tonight, then Sheamus could always help make the Intercontinental Title or the United States title seem relatively important, but he won’t be back around the World Title for a while.

Wait, a mid-card feud without any sort of title implications?  The Strap Match between JTG and Shad Gaspard comes as a huge surprise to me.  Not even when Cryme Time was at the height of their popularity did WWE give them a run with the Tag Team Championships – not even a fake reign where they pretended to be champions after steeling the belts (which would’ve been in line with their gimmicks), and now that they’ve split up they’re getting a pay per view match?  I’m sure a large part of the WWE Universe would be surprised by the fact that I’m highly anticipating this match, but it doesn’t lessen the fact that I’m glad to see that WWE is actually investing SOMETHING in their mid-card.  More on this idea later.

The Status Quo

I would’ve put the match between C.M. Punk and Rey Mysterio in the “Good” list, but the stipulation doesn’t have me excited for the match much at all.  Their Wrestlemania match was great, and I really enjoy matches by both competitor just as I expect to enjoy tonight’s contest, but why should we care whether or not C.M. Punk has to shave his head?  Isn’t that part of the criteria to be part of his Straight Edge Society?  Luke Gallows’ head is shaved, and so is Serena’s (the female member of the group).  Why would it matter whether or not Punk has his head shaved?  Also, I had thought the stipulations behind this match would involve Rey Mysterio having to join the Straight Edge Society if Punk were to win, but that doesn’t even seem like it’s in play for tonight’s match.  Rey doesn’t have anything to lose, and I fully expect C.M. Punk to win – though even if Mysterio wins, it’s not going to matter.

The Women’s Championship is being defended by Michelle McCool against Beth Phoenix in some sort of “Extreme Makeover Match”.  I’m expecting that Beth Phoenix will eventually win this feud with Michelle McCool and end up losing the belt in some sort of handicap match to Vickie Guerrero.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the Glamazon gets the belt tonight, although I don’t really care either way.

The Lackluster

I can’t think of an outcome for the Last Man Standing match which I’d be excited about.  Either Batista continues to lose credibility by losing to John Cena for a second straight time after having to screw him out of the championship at Elimination Chamber, or the belt continues to be swapped back and forth yet again – the 5th title swap in 6 months.

The main thing I find lackluster about this event is the lack of title matches, namely the World Tag Team Championships, the Intercontinental Title and the United States Title.  The Miz is one of the more heated characters on the roster, and he’s not even on the card.  The WWE tried to push Drew McIntyre as a big deal, and yet I can’t think of anything he’s done since the Elimination Chamber pay per view prior to Wrestlemania 26 that has anything to do with the Intercontinental Champion – a frustrating point to me because of the great history of pay per view matches involving the belt – especially Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon (Scott Hall) at Wrestlemania X, and Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat at Wrestlemania III (arguably the best match in Wrestlemania history).  Those matches MADE those pay per views – not to mention the careers of the individuals involved, and WWE is wasting the belt by having no focus on it at all.  Don’t even get me started on the pathetic state of the tag team division.  Out of two shows, how many viable teams are there?  Basically three.  With WWE’s NXT where “Pros” are paired up with “Rookies”, they haven’t utilized any of those pairings for temporary teams, nor have they really utilized one of the only “stables” (groups) in WWE – the Straight Edge Society, who could really be a force in the division.

All in all, the Extreme Rules pay per view is better than I was expecting it to be, but it’s a far cry from being an event that I’d be excited to pay money for watching.