The post-WrestleMania season is beginning to come into full bloom, as new stories for the summer are beginning to develop and champions are finding new challengers – well, sort of.
Five matches have been announced for the PPV itself and one for the Internet exclusive pre-show. The results of these matches will likely dictate the next three months or so of the summer.
Ring Posts bloggers Arda Ocal and Adam Testa weigh in on the match card:
Zack Ryder vs. Kane
Arda: I would have enjoyed this match a couple months ago, but now unfortunately, it has a home on the YouTube/Facebook pre-show. I see Kane scoring the victory here in a match with no real consequence. Personally, I would have rather seen the Intercontinental or United States title defended. If every month it was standard that the pre show matchup would be a title match, it might be more appealing.
Adam: As Arda alluded to, several months ago, this match would have been red hot with Ryder seeking revenge on Kane. Now, WWE has used both men in such different ways that the audience has moved on. A lot of people probably don’t even remember Kane throwing Ryder off the stage in the first place. But Kane seems to be the bigger commodity in today’s WWE, so he’ll get the win here and Ryder’s train of momentum will spin ever further off the tracks.
Layla (c) vs. Beth Phoenix
Arda: I have felt that Layla has been put in a no-win situation following her return from a year long injury. In her surprise return, fans were hoping for Kharma. Kharma teased that it was Kharma. Even when Eve said before the match it wasn't Kharma, fans wanted Kharma. Instead, they got Layla, cold, after a year off TV, which was met with a combination of deflation, indifference and a minority of applause. Then, Layla wins the Divas title quickly against a departing Bella. I think Layla deserved better, certainly more hype for her return — and I hope this is the match that will remind fans of her abilities in the ring. Fingers crossed that this will be a candidate for divas match of the year, and it might very well steal the show if given time to breathe. Layla retains. Will Kharma finally emerge?
Arda: If WWE planned to put the belt back on Phoenix this quickly, they could have just had her beat the Bella to regain the title. That didn’t happen, and instead, Layla returned and won the Divas Championship. I’m not a fan of hot-shotting any championship, so I hope to avoid a change here. I see Layla and Phoenix continuing to feud through the summer, so Layla is keeping the title here.
Tag Team Championship
Kofi Kingston and R-Truth (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger
Arda: Not since TLC in December have the WWE Tag Team titles been defended on PPV. The straps were contested for seven times on PPV in 2011, and only once so far in 2012. I am a fan of tag team wrestling, and maybe I'm in the minority, but I want more, which is why I'm happy to see more tag teams like Darren Young/Titus O’Neil emerge and Abraham Washington "managing" former champs Epico and Primo. I see Kingston and Truth winning this match — I don't think many want to see Ziggler and Swagger as tag champs. I want to see Ziggler slowly but surely climb the main event ladder and become a legitimate main event player by SummerSlam.
Prediction: Kofi Kingston and R-Truth
Adam: Swagger and Ziggler seem to be stuck in a directionless, midcard purgatory. I long advocated for them to be built as a team and pushed, if that was the best WWE could do with them at the moment. And now it happened, but I find myself hoping they don’t get pushed too far. Like Arda, I think Ziggler has main event potential as a singles star, but I think it will take longer than this summer to achieve. But it also seems pointless to pull a title switch here, when All World Enterprises are clearly being built up to regain the titles. I think Primo and Epico will be the ones to dethrone Kingston and Truth. Sorry, Dolph.
Prediction: Kofi Kingston and R-Truth
World Heavyweight Championship
Sheamus (c) vs. Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Chris Jericho
Arda: At first I wasn't a fan of this setup, largely due to the fact that I was looking forward to two singles matches involving these four superstars (Sheamus vs. Del Rio, Jericho vs. Orton). There is enough experience and talent in this match that it will be entertaining, however, so I won't complain too much about it. Sheamus is still a fresh champion and looking at his positioning and focus, I see him retaining the title going into a special match with ADR at the next PPV event.
Adam: This match does largely seem to be a case of taking the top stars without obvious matches for the show and throwing them together. Like I said about the Divas Championship match, I’m not a fan of the short title reigns, so I’m pulling for Sheamus to retain here. The match itself should be decent, at least, considering the star power involved. Hopefully we get more of the Sheamus-Jericho interaction that started at the Royal Rumble. I think the singles matches that Arda predicted will splinter from this into matches for the next pay-per-view.
CM Punk (c) vs. Daniel Bryan
Arda: The winner of this match? The fans. It will be a terrific wrestling match that will not disappoint. Unlike their champion vs. champion matches on Raw, I look forward to seeing new wrinkles and twists that we aren't used to but welcome with open arms. Both guys have met across company borders and are very familiar with one another. What I like about this match is that there is a mutual respect going into the PPV — both haven't exactly talked too much smack about their opponent, other than “I will beat you.” That's also because they haven't had too much interaction face to face leading up to Over the Limit. Normally, that would be a point of complaint, but in this case, it's not irritating. I see CM Punk with his hand raised and, due to the fact that both men seemed preoccupied with other rivalries, this may be a one-off match.
Prediction: CM Punk
Adam: This is somewhere Arda and I will disagree. I don’t see this being a one-off match. To me, it seems that Bryan has moved on from Sheamus and Punk from Jericho, so I see these two competing until SummerSlam. To keep the feud alive — as well as to extend the issues between Bryan and AJ — I see Bryan winning the title courtesy of AJ’s interference. Her plan will backfire, though, when Bryan still refuses to take her back.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan
John Cena vs. John Laurinaitis
Arda: The real question is will John Laurinaitis ride to the ring on a skateboard? My head says no, but my heart hopes yes. In this "battle of the Johns," I wonder if Cena will, in fact, take time off after this event. It was teased at last month's PPV after Cena's match with Lesnar, and then dropped. Maybe at the end of this match, Cena is beat down at the hands of Laurinaitis’ henchmen (who somehow evade the "you're fired stipulation, possibly because they aren't employed technically, like Big Show or Brock Lesnar), causing a Cena injury and a Laurinaitis victory. If Cena goes away for a while, this lets "Big Johnny" become even more dastardly until Cena returns for payback.
Prediction: John Laurinaitis
Adam: The shenanigans of Big Show or Brock Lesnar getting involved seem inevitable. Maybe Lesnar will help Laurinaitis and Show will emerge to help Cena, and then we’ll get the dream match of Big Show vs. Lesnar at SummerSlam… No? Okay, fine, have it your way. But one way or the other, at least one of those men is getting involved in this match, and it will help Laurinaitis win. If Johnny Ace loses, he’s fired, and that basically makes the past several months completely worthless. I’d like to think WWE is above that. Fans have begun to get more behind Cena, and a loss to Laurinaitis and subsequent time off (as Arda alluded to) seems like a good way to develop that even further.
Prediction: John Laurinaitis