The ninth annual Extreme Rules event is less a little over 24 hours away, so I thought I’d write down some of my thoughts, hopes, and predictions heading into the show. I wouldn’t say I’m excited about the show, but I am looking forward to it somewhat. I think with so many PPVs packed so closely together, it’s difficult to get really excited about any specific event. While we’re getting ready to watch Extreme Rules, I’m already looking past it to some of the matches they’re hyping for Money in the Bank. I think WWE needs to give us time to breath. Just like a wrestling match itself, if you go all-out all the time then there’s no way to build a rhythm or to make the important moments stand out like they should.
There are only six matches announced so far, so I feel like they might add one or two more, especially in order to fill out the Kickoff show. I mean, I enjoy long matches, but I fear the repeat of last year’s nearly thirty minute debacle that was the Asylum match. The card is heavily stacked towards the top end with five of the main guys on RAW in one match, so it will be interesting to see what gets added. If I had to guess, I’d say Goldust vs R-Truth would be a nice addition, though it should probably be on the Kickoff or one of the earliest matches on the show. I think those two can build to something really entertaining, so I wouldn’t want them to blow it all before a proper buildup. But for now I’ll just concentrate on what’s been announced.
Sasha Banks & Rich Swann vs Alicia Fox & Noam Dar
I’m looking forward to this one. I don’t expect it to be super long or super amazing, but I think it will be fun. I think the Swann/Dar/Fox feud has been stretched a little thin at this point, especially with the underwhelming conclusion that basically got retconned when Fox got back with Dar for no good reason, but I like the addition of Sasha Banks to the mix. It makes the feud feel somewhat fresh, though I don’t expect (or want) it to go too much longer. This should probably be the last match of this feud. As such, I expect Swann and Banks will come away with the victory. If I had my way though, I’d have Dar and Fox win. From my perspective, Swann is kind of the heel in this feud. Besides, I like Dar and Fox together. I think they work well as a team. I want to see that continue, and I want to see them be a legitimate threat.
Winner: Alicia Fox & Noam Dar
Cruiserweight Title Submission Match
Austin Aries vs Neville (c)
This is another feud that feels like it needs to move on to something else. Or it at least needs some significant change. I’ve enjoyed it, but it’s starting to feel like a lot of the same stuff every week. I like to see great champs face a little adversity, so I think Aries should win this one. If Neville wins it has to be definitive, and I don’t see that happening with they way they’ve built up to this submission match. I think the scenario I wrote about prior to Payback would still be a good way to go. Have Aries win the title, then have TJP become number one contender. Neville will help TJP cheat to beat Aries, then TJP will lose the title to Aries building up to a final bout between Aries and Neville at Summer Slam.
Winner: Austin Aries
RAW Tag Title Steel Cage Match
Cesaro & Sheamus vs The Hardy Boyz (c)
This will be a good match, but I think it’s kind of tough to pick. I’d like to see the Hardys hold on to the belts for a little while longer to build some good momentum, but with the turn that Cesaro and Sheamus made after their last title match I think Cesaro and Sheamus should probably win. I expect a crazy dive or two, and that should probably lead to the finish. One of the Hardys (probably Jeff) will attempt to get too extreme and pay for it with the titles. I think it would make Cesaro and Sheamus’ turn mean something, and it would add a lot more interest to the Hardy Boyz who are fun to watch, but feel a little lacking in excitement since they’ve been back. Maybe it just feels that way because everyone is waiting for the hopeful emergence of the “Broken” Hardys, but regardless, I think this feud, and the titles, need to be shaken up.
Winner: Cesaro & Sheamus
RAW Women’s Title Kendo Stick on a Pole Match
Bayley vs Alexa Bliss (c)
This is the match I’m least looking forward to. Not because of the participants, but because of the lackluster buildup and the match stipulation itself. I don’t like pole matches. They feel unnecessarily limiting. When the promise is supposed to be “extreme” action and violence, the majority of a pole matche tends to be pushing and shoving your way up the turnbuckles. It’s not exciting to me because whenever someone reaches the item on the pole, nothing really changes. Now they have a weapon. Great. Would they be disqualified for using the other countless weapons stashed around the ring for a show titled Extreme Rules? I’ve seen matches like this go both ways, so I’m not 100% sure if they will have DQ in this match or not.
And it’s not as if the first person to reach the weapon is the only person who can use it. Both people will use it. Guaranteed. So what’s the point of putting it on a pole? It would be more interesting to me if the person who didn’t get the weapon would be forbidden from using it. Even if they manage to get a hold of it, they would be disqualified if they used it on their opponent. This would add some actual tension to the first part of the match rather than having it be an enormous waste of time. It would also create a unique situation once the weapon was retrieved.
Think about this match. If Alexa were to get the kendo stick and Bayley was forbidden from using it, it would create an enormous disadvantage for Bayley. Her character is all about the underdog fight, but since she’s become so popular it’s hard to consider her an underdog most of the time. This would very clearly do that. Also, if Bayley were the one to retrieve the kendo stick then she would have a choice to make: use it or simply throw it away and have a normal match. Something like that would do a ton for her character while the current situation will just feel like she’s defending herself. But anyway, I don’t think the title should change hands in a less than stellar match type with a less than stellar buildup.
Winner: Alexa Bliss
IC Title Match (the title can change hands on a DQ)
The Miz vs Dean Ambrose (c)
At first I thought this wasn’t a good stipulation for Extreme Rules, but the more I thought about it, the more I like it. This is a match type that forces to competitors to be even more careful than usual to NOT do anything extreme. It seems like it’s contrary to the entire purpose of the show, and it is. That’s why it works. The Miz is all about picking his matches and not getting himself into unnecessarily dangerous situations. This the perfect match for people to really get angry at him about his conniving ways and (somewhat overblown) coward persona.
Unfortunately, no one on the shows has been making this point clear in the buildup to the match, but I guess that’s why I’m here. To add my own excitement to the match and make my own buildup in my head. The Miz should be rubbing this stipulation in everyone’s faces, talking about how there’s no way he would take part in any sort of “extreme” match type. But that’s not really happening, so, yeah.
Other than that, I’m not too interested in this match. I think it’s silly that they had the Superstar Shakeup and promised new matchups, yet both Ambrose and The Miz came from SmackDown. This isn’t a matchup we couldn’t have seen prior to the shakeup. And this isn’t a match where I really care about the outcome. I’m going to pick The Miz, just because I’d like to see either Finn Balor or Seth Rollins go for the IC Title next, and it makes more sense to have the belt on The Miz for those feuds.
WInner: The Miz
Fatal Five Way Extreme Rules Match
Finn Balor vs Seth Rollins vs Samoa Joe vs Bray Wyatt vs Roman Reigns
I don’t really wish for anyone to be injured, but I’m kind of not upset that the injury to Braun Strowman necessitated this match. The buildup has been a little underwhelming at times, but with these five guys in one match, it’s going to be difficult for it not to be entertaining. Even so, I’ll be happy when these five split back up into individual feuds. I still want to see Wyatt versus Balor like it looked they were headed towards at one point, and I think individual feuds are easier to keep interesting week after week.
I either want Balor or Rollins to win this. I think Balor makes the most sense, but I almost want to delay his inevitable title match until he can gain a little more momentum. A feud with Bray Wyatt would build that momentum. Also, I think whoever wins this match is surely going to lose to Lesnar, so I think I’d rather see Rollins challenge for the title right now. I think they still want to have Lesnar versus Strowman at some point, so this whole scenario feels a little like a time filler. Rollins doesn’t need a strong showing for people to be behind him, so I think having him lose to Lesnar will be less of a setback than Balor losing to Lesnar.
Winner: Seth Rollins
So there they are, my thoughts heading into Extreme Rules. I doubt my picks will make great predictions, but we’ll see. I just hope the show is fun. It really needs a few special moments for it to stand out from the crowd of WWE PPVs. I hope they can pull it off.