The annual WWE Extreme Rules Pay-Per-View, and others like it including Hell in a Cell and TLC, don’t give me the same feelings of excited anticipation that they previously did during the Attitude Era.
With what we know now about head injuries and the safer approach “extreme rules” matches must take as a result to protect the performers, executing more violent moves and high spots to live up to the implied violence of the PPV and the previous great matches that came before is complicated and difficult, making it nearly impossible for extreme matches today to live the hype and expectation.
This article won’t get too serious, but extreme rules matches and more specifically booking entire PPVs around those matches should be rethought by the WWE.
Bottom line is this: If the performers can’t use the weapons of the match in a logical way, pull off stunts crazy enough to make the match feel different to a regular one-fall match, or execute high spots at least near the level of previous matches of the same kind, then going through with that extreme match is a waste of time and destined to be anticlimactic.
Couple of examples of that from recent years include the Russian Chain match between John Cena and Rusev at the 2015 Extreme Rules when they barely used the chain as a weapon and failed to use it logically, and the 2014 Hell in a Cell match between Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose when they did the “fall off the cell through a table spot,” but did so from barely half way up the side of the cage.
Anyway, hopefully WWE will start to figure out how to pull off extreme matches in the PG era starting with this PPV, so let’s get to the predictions!
Universal Title No. 1 Contender’s Match – Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Bálor vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Samoa Joe – Extreme Rules Fatal 5-Way Match
Instead of trying to pick a winner from the total group of five, it’s useful in matches like this to eliminate the people who won’t win and then pick a winner from who remains.
To eliminate those people, look at who WWE creative put over with their booking leading up to the match since they usually like to pump up the performers about to take a loss.
- Roman Reigns defeated both Finn Bálor and Seth Rollins clean on RAW the last two weeks, and a match with four other performers can protect him from taking a pinfall loss. Plus, the worst kept secret in wrestling is they’ll save the Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar rematch for WrestleMania next year.
- Samoa Joe won the triple threat match against Bray Wyatt and Bálor last week on RAW, so he got pumped up, and given the current story line plus their lack of history, building a Samoa Joe-Lesnar feud right now makes little sense.
- Bálor was put over huge by Paul Heyman a couple of weeks ago, plus the winner of this match will lose to Lesnar, so I don’t think Bálor will be sacrificed; they think too highly of him.
That leaves Wyatt and Rollins.
Styles make fights as the saying goes, so I think the winner will be Rollins.
Lesnar opponents need to be able to create movement in the match, need to be able to take the Lesnar suplex bumps, and need to be creative and versatile in the ring to carry the unique spots that break up the suplex barrage; that guy is clearly Rollins and not Wyatt.
Bálor also fits that criteria, he’d make sense with the story line of never losing the Universal Championship, and it does seem odd to have Heyman put him over without winning this match since those two have no prior history, but I still think Rollins makes the most sense.
Regardless of it being Rollins or Bálor, no matter who wins this match, both guys will lose to Lesnar since WWE will do everything possible to book Lesnar vs Braun Strowman for SummerSlam this year, and then Lesnar vs Reigns at WrestleMania next year.
It also helps that Rollins has more history with Lesnar going back to WrestleMania 31 and their Battleground 2015 PPV match than Lesnar does with Wyatt; that’ll make building the story line on a quick timeline much easier.
WWE creative also tipped their hand on one of the first shows after the superstar shakeup when Wyatt cut a promo on Bálor, indicating they would have a feud coming up, so it seems their future is booked beyond this PPV.
One final thing, Rollins should pin Samoa Joe with those guys as the last two standing to kind of wrap up their feud as Rollins moves on to face Lesnar.
Prediction: Seth Rollins pinning Samoa Joe
Intercontinental Championship Match – Dean Ambrose (c) vs. The Miz – If Ambrose is disqualified, he will lose the Intercontinental Title
The story lines don’t seem to be pointing one way or another, but my guess is The Miz will win this match.
Dean Ambrose has been a decent champion, but he doesn’t carry feuds or get reactions from the crowd effortlessly like The Miz has done over the last year or so. Neither guy is a great technical wrestler and both are good on the microphone, but The Miz cuts the best heel promos in the company and it feels like Ambrose’s character has gone stale; for those reasons, I’d rather have The Miz as Intercontinental Champion.
This really comes down to the status and momentum of their characters: The Miz is on fire, while Ambrose has become boring.
Putting The Miz over also makes sense for future booking reasons with more baby faces available to match up with him, compared to heels to match up against Ambrose.
For the finish, the addition of the “a loss by DQ can cost Ambrose the title” stipulation tells us something. As the ultimate cowardly heel, The Miz should never win clean and this stipulation along with how he caused Ambrose to lose two weeks ago by attacking his opponent on RAW, seems to indicate that WWE creative is setting up a classic Eddie Guerrero finish.
Having Maryse slap The Miz on purpose to cause the DQ would be the easiest and most obvious way to book it, but they should go a different direction.
Maryse should cause a distraction, then while the ref has his back turned The Miz will pick up the belt like he’s going to hit Ambrose, but just before the ref turns back around The Miz will toss Ambrose the belt and fall down like he’s been hit with the belt.
The ref will look confused, think Ambrose hit The Miz with the belt, and call for the bell to award The Miz the Intercontinental Title by DQ.
Prediction: The Miz wins the title by DQ after tricking the ref in the style of Eddie Guerrero
Raw Women’s Championship Match – Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Bayley – Kendo Stick on a Pole Match
This is just a gut feeling, but they’ve gone too far with insulting their top babyface to not put her over and give her character revenge. Of course, I say they’ve gone too far in insulting her strictly in story line/kayfabe terms; I’m not SAWFT.
I love Alexa Bliss, but to embarrass Bayley with the “This is Your Life” segment last week on RAW, and for the last two weeks also have Bliss get over with kendo stick attacks, and then not give her any measure of revenge would damage the stock of her character.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to see Bliss have a long title run because I think she’s the most entertaining character in the women’s division—on either show—but if they want to keep Bayley on the main event level, she’ll need to get over with a win soon.
Of course, if WWE creative has caught on that Bayley isn’t working as the top babyface on RAW, then maybe they’ll take a step back with her, keep the belt on Bliss, and move on to the next challenger like possibly Sasha Banks. That’s the option I’d pick if I had the book, but think WWE wants to give Bayley another shot to get over with the main roster crowd.
Plus, showing that even the most kid friendly babyface has an edge and will get aggressive when pushed too far is important for that character’s development, and helps not put off the older audience who doesn’t want to see only bubblegum and sunshine from the top babyfaces.
Prediction: Bayley by pinfall
RAW Tag Team Championship Match – The Hardy Boyz (c) vs. Cesaro & Sheamus – Steel Cage Match
The Hardy Boyz title run since returning at WrestleMania has felt a little flat other than those first two nights, but WWE creative will likely stick with them a little longer.
It’d be a waste of time to take the belts off them now while the legal department is still fighting over the rights to Broken Matt Hardy. That character is over with the crowd before even being introduced, so it’d be a shame to take the belts off them before he can fully be that character.
Sheamus and Cesaro have been better as a tag team than I anticipated they would be, but turning them heel was likely a way to change things up enough to extend the feud a little longer before they’re able to set up what’s next.
What’s next will hopefully be a title feud with The Revival once they’re healthy enough to wrestle again; love that tag team.
Prediction: Hardy Boyz crawl through the door after a Swanton Bomb from the top of the cage
WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match – Neville (c) vs. Austin Aries – Submission Match
Another pick based off mostly gut feeling and picking up patterns with how WWE creative usually books things, but Austin Aries will win this match.
It’s doubtful they’d book a title match between Neville and Aries for a third straight PPV to have the same guy retain the belt again. Yes, Aries did win their match at Payback, but it was by DQ, so he didn’t win the belt.
Wouldn’t booking the top babyface in the division to come up short against the same guy for a third straight time seem pointless? It would to me.
Aries is a top performer, he’s a great talker who can sell his feuds, and deserves a title run, so this seems like the spot where the babyface chasing the gold will finally overcome his rival.
Prediction: Austin Aries by submission
Mixed Tag Team Match – Rich Swann & Sasha Banks vs. Noam Dar & Alicia Fox
I got bored even typing up the match headline for this section of the article.
It sucks that Sasha Banks as a character has fallen this far; she deserves much better.
Regardless of where her character went wrong, for this match I don’t see any reason why WWE creative would book Alicia Fox over Sasha Banks. Fox hasn’t been relevant in the women’s division for a long time, and her character is nothing more than an opponent to take losses for the performers being advanced.
Prediction: Sasha Banks makes Alicia Fox tap to the Banks Statement finisher