By Kyle Jones
It seems as though the entire wrestling landscape has changed since WWE’s last pay-per-view, Stomping Grounds. Raw and Smackdown ratings continue to fall, WWE superstars are reportedly unhappy and AEW is on the rise. Despite the turbulent waters, WWE will attempt to right the ship at Extreme Rules on Sunday.
This particular iteration of Extreme Rules is especially important given all of the change that has taken place behind the scenes at WWE in the past month or so.
Industry icons Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff were appointed executive director of Raw and Smackdown Live respectively, AEW has proven themselves a viable competitor (All Out pay-per-view tickets sold out in 10 minutes), and Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio has reported that WWE are moving towards more mature content, signalling the end of the infamous “PG Era.”
It’s time to go match-by-match and find out what could happen at Extreme Rules this Sunday in Philadelphia.
Cruiserweight Championship (Drew Gulak (c) v Tony Nese)
Ok, so the order of the card hasn’t been confirmed, but if I were a betting man I’d bet on the Cruiserweights being put on the pre-show, as they have for seemingly every pay-per-view ever.
Funny enough, this may wind up being a match of the night contender. As both Gulak, the champion, and Nese put on stellar performances in the ring.
Gulak just won the championship at Stomping Grounds, and he’s wrestling in his hometown of Philadelphia. For these reasons I’d say it’s a bit too early to take the belt off of him, but Nese just might get his win at SummerSlam.
My Prediction: Gulak retains his championship.
Aleister Black v Cesaro
A match that was announced last Thursday, the only build we got for this fight was Black and Cesaro staring at each other saying they wanted to fight.
And frankly, that’s all this match needs.
Black has shown from his work both in NXT and on the main roster that he is a world class competitor. Cesaro, similarly, has shown his class both in tag-team action with Sheamus and by himself.
Both men are agile and strong, and while there may not much build, the sheer quality of this bout could make it Match of the Night.
My Prediction: Black to win, but this won’t be a one-off match.
Braun Strowman v Bobby Lashley (Last Man Standing)
Despite not being an “Extreme Rules” match, this one has the potential to be one of the craziest matches on the card. While the actual quality of the fight won’t be on the same level as Black v Cesaro, the showcases of strength by both men will be reason enough to tune in.
These two guys nearly killed themselves on Raw this past week, with Strowman throwing Lashley through the titan-tron, causing huge explosions. It seemed to signal the beginning of the Heyman Era of Raw.
If Strowman and Lashley perform some of the same kinds of spots on Sunday, prepare for some memorable moments.
My Prediction: The Monster Among Men is going to win this one, but Lashley is going to have to be put through Hell before he finally quits.
Smackdown Tag-Team Championship (Daniel Bryan & Rowan (c) v The New Day v Heavy Machinery)
There have been some high-quality fights between these three teams over the past few weeks, and that should continue on Sunday. A big part of the build to this match has been Daniel Bryan saying that Heavy Machinery doesn’t take tag-team wrestling seriously.
It would be interesting to see if now is when WWE decides to prove him wrong. Heel-Daniel Bryan has had a good run, something I don’t think a lot of people thought would happen due to how great a babyface he plays (it’s really hard to root against Bryan), but now just might be the time to take the belt off of him and hand it to Heavy Machinery.
There is one more pretty big spectre that hangs over this fight.
In the buildup to their fight, Samoa Joe and WWE Champion Kofi Kingston have argued about how much Kingston relies on his New Day teammates. I think there is more than enough cause for Joe to interfere in this match, in order to make Big E and Xavier Woods non-factors later in the night.
My Prediction: Samoa Joe will interfere, putting one or both members of the New Day in his signature Coquina Clutch. This will allow Bryan and Rowan to pick up the victory and retain the titles.
Raw Tag-Team Championship (The Revival (c) v The Usos)
Pretty straightforward this one. The Revival and The Usos will have a good match because they’re both really good at wrestling. The Revival will retain, because Vince McMahon knows that as soon as they drop the titles they’re off to AEW.
My Prediction: The Revival retain because Cody Rhodes can’t have nice things.
United States Championship (Ricochet (c) v AJ Styles)
This match can and should be the best one on the night.
Ricochet is the most acrobatic wrestler I’ve ever seen, and AJ Styles has the skills to match him.
Both of these guys have honed their craft in promotions worldwide and it’s gonna be fun to see them go at it.
The one thing that could bring this match down, in my opinion, is interference from Gallows & Anderson, now that they and AJ have re-formed “The (Bullet) Club.”
My Prediction: Gallows and Anderson will interfere and Styles will win, leading to a follow-up match at SummerSlam.
Smackdown Women’s Championship (Bayley (c) v Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross) (2-on-1 Handicap)
The big aspect of this match that was stressed on TV this week was that Bayley needs to “find a friend.” She’s got her back against the wall, and it seems like the perfect time for the return of Sasha Banks, but I’m not too sure about that.
Regardless of what happens, this should be a good match, especially as it’s the only all-women’s match on the card.
My Prediction: Banks will not return. Instead Bayley will finally break through to Nikki, leading to her turning on Alexa. Bayley retains and she and Nikki will fight at SummerSlam.
WWE Championship (Kofi Kingston (c) v Samoa Joe)
This is gonna be a tough one.
On one hand, this could be a chance for Kofi to prove himself right. If Joe interferes in the New Day’s match Kofi will have to go it alone. If Kofi wins, Joe’s whole case falls apart.
On the other hand, it seems like it would be better to wait until SummerSlam for such a big title change, so it might not be the best time for Joe to win.
My Prediction: I expect a non-finish. Joe will choke Kofi out on the outside, or disregard the referee’s count, or something to that accord and get disqualified. This will set up a No DQ match at SummerSlam where the title can change hands.
Roman Reigns & The Undertaker v Shane McMahon & Drew McIntyre (No Holds Barred Match)
This match can really only go one way because, as Kevin Owens said on Tuesday, “Shane McMahon’s been on TV more than anyone else, and nobody wanted that.”
The bell will ring, there might be a little bit of scrapping, but after a little bit Roman Reigns will spear Shane McMahon. The Undertaker will bust out the classic moves on Drew and Shane. Chokeslam, Old School, Tombstone Piledriver. Reigns and Taker will hit their finishers on Drew and Shane. 1..2..3.
The crowd will go crazy from seeing Taker destroy the heels. Taker won’t have to exert himself too much, because as he showed us at Super Showdown he really can’t do that anymore. All will be right and the crowd will be loud and excited for the main event.
My Prediction: See Above.
Winner Takes All (Seth Rollins (c) & Becky Lynch (c) v Baron Corbin & Lacey Evans)
This match presents an opportunity for WWE that we haven’t seen since Wrestlemania 34, when Rhonda Rousey and Kurt Angle fought StephanieMcMahon and Triple H. WWE could finally adopt something we haven’t seen since when Chyna fought for the company.
It’s common in independent promotions worldwide. Chyna, the best female wrestler that WWE refuses to talk about, succeeded because she fought against both men and women.
It seems, at least right now, that the only thing keeping WWE from showcasing intergender wrestling is the threat of losing sponsors, but surely if companies like Snickers leave then other, more adult oriented, companies would replace them.
The WWE is looking to move away from PG TV, and I have the best way to do it.
My Prediction: Under WWE’s current mixed-tag rules the men fight the men and the women fight the women, no crossover. Let’s change that shall we.
Things will start off normally, Corbin fights Rollins, Lynch fights Evans, standard mixed-tag action. But at one point one Rollins or Becky will break.
The commentary team has hyped up the fact that Lynch and Rollins are in a relationship. If one gets into a situation where they’re about to tap out, it doesn’t sound too crazy that the other would jump in to make the save (I think it’ll be Becky saving Seth). This will lead to a woman wrestling a man for the rest of the match.
If commentary sells this it could make for a brilliant moment in the show.
The match could end with Becky pinning Corbin while Seth and Lacey squabble on the outside. The match ends with WWE’s favorite couple standing tall once again.
So that’s the show. A little bit of fantasy booking at the end, but overall Extreme Rules has the potential to be a great time on the road to SummerSlam. The only question is whether WWE books it to its full potential, or will the show just fall flat.
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org