SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
So it’s possible, even likely, that I’m going to get all of these wrong.
Follow @Colohue for updates.
1. Andrade Cien Almas (w/Zelena Vega) vs. Sin Cara – Pre-Show
In a rematch from a solid match on Smackdown Live, these two should have some more room to show what they can do. Sin Cara is in desperate need of a career renaissance and a great match with Almas could be that. Meanwhile, Almas’ debut has been delayed and now he needs to hit the ground running.
Winner: Andrade Cien Almas
2. The New Day vs. Sanity – Pre-Show Tables Match
This match will definitely hype the crowd up in a major way and it’s a real shame to have this on the pre-show given the stipulation. That said, a team with the drawing power of The New Day will definitely ensure that this pre-show is one of the most watched in history.
For all that though, Sanity are in clear need of a marquee win. The table format also allow for a good bit or carnage and, potentially, the debut of Nikki Cross as a great violent equaliser.
3. Bludgeon Brothers vs. Team Hell No – Smackdown Tag Team Championship match
Well this is an interesting one, with the return of Kane’s fire encouraging the idea that there may be some inferno involvement.
That said, it’s all about Daniel Bryan in the eyes of most pundits and with The Miz off the card the favourite idea is that The Miz will cost Team Hell No the match.
So what was the point of bringing Kane back? What’s he going to do next?
At the same time, the Bludgeon Brothers need a win. They’ve been established as dominant and unbeatable yes but they’ve not been established particularly well in that field. With the titles on them, nothing has really happened. They’re not prominent figures and you’d never expect to see a promo from them really.
Maybe, just maybe, this is going to be a curveball.
Winner: Team Hell No
4. Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin
This feud doesn’t seem much like a long term idea. Corbin could do more with the win but given that his current role is corporate shill I don’t really see it happening.
Winner: Finn Balor
5. Carmella (w/James Ellsworth) vs. Asuka – Smackdown Women’s Championship with Ellsworth in a shark cage above the ring
Carmella’s title reign has been prominent if confusing. The return of James Ellsworth is similar to the return of Kane in that should Asuka win the title and move into the expected big fall feud with Becky Lynch then James Ellsworth becomes completely pointless.
A lot of people are annoyed at Asuka suddenly being on a losing streak but in the months that follow this that won’t be a losing streak so much as a brief bad patch, a blip in the program. Unfortunately, that blip looks set to continue.
6. Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt vs. The B Team – Raw Tag Team Championship match
The B Team’s push is far stronger than the push for Hardy and Wyatt but in the long term they will not be the focus of programming. There are too many tag teams on Raw who are in need of a push and being pushed into a feud with the B Team is going nowhere. The Revival or the Authors Of Pain are both more than ready to line up against the favourite of hardcore fans in Matt Hardy and the favourite of casuals in Bray Wyatt.
Winner: Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt
7. Jeff Hardy vs. Shinsuke Nakamura – U.S. Title Match
Jeff Hardy is working injured and were it not for a bite from a Police dog, Shinsuke Nakamura would already be the US champion. After a very high profile feud with AJ Styles, Nakamura is in need of getting some heat back and Jeff Hardy needs to reduce his schedule for a while.
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
8. Dolph Ziggler (w/Drew McIntyre) vs. Seth Rollins – 30 Minute Iron Man for the Intercontinental Championship
This will be match of the night, with almost no contenders in place. Hardy and Nakamura have a chance but this iron man format will suit both parties perfectly.
Drew McIntyre has to get involved somehow but at the same time WWE know well enough to let this match go and let it go hard. The big question is what happens next for Seth. Could this be the match in which Dean Ambrose returns, leading into a big tag team match at Summerslam? Maybe Roman Reigns will get involved and that will result in him losing his match later in the night?
Whatever happens, I’m confident Seth Rollins will not be regaining the Intercontinental title.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
9. Alexa Bliss (w/Mickie James) vs. Nia Jax – Extreme Rules, Raw Women’s Championship
Alexa Bliss vs Ronda Rousey at Summerslam is the big match that they’re going for, so this match is more about making Nia Jax look good and Alexa Bliss look bad.
Knowing then that Rousey is going to be ringside means that we know where the focus is going to be. Logically, Mickie James should be getting involved but at the same time that will just open up the match to interference from Ronda Rousey.
My expectation is almost exactly that. Alexa Bliss can’t win clean. It doesn’t make sense. So I’d expect to see a Nia Jax battering ram of offence followed by Mickie James interference, Ronda Rousey interference, a distraction as a result and than an Alexa Bliss win.
Winner: Alexa Bliss
10. A.J. Styles vs. Rusev (w/Aiden English) – WWE Championship match
AJ Styles vs Samoa Joe will be the big feud for the top title moving forwards and it’s a feud that I expect to see Samoa Joe win. When this feud starts though could be very telling. If the feud starts at Hell In A Cell then we could see Rusev given a one month title reign and a brief but strong push to accent his current push.
More likely in my opinion will be AJ Styles playing the classic role of Ric Flair; walking in, making his opponent look great and then walking out the champion.
Either way, Rusev is going to have a great time.
Winner: A.J. Styles
11. Roman Reigns vs. Bobby Lashley
There have been a lot of foregone conclusions with Roman Reigns lately, and I’ve predicted a lot of losses for him since mania that didn’t end up being so. Unfortunately, that isn’t over as I’m predicting another loss here.
Bobby Lashley’s return has not been hot. His brief partnership with Braun Strowman was all about Braun Strowman and while he was clearly the focus of the feud with Sami Zayn, the feud is best described as lukewarm at best. Lashley has only just started to look good now and get some heat behind him in his feud with Roman Reigns. Roman being starmaker and the person that everybody wants to see get beat up most, Lashley could be pushed straight into a feud with Brock Lesnar, with some real fuel behind him, with a win here.
So that’s what I’m predicting.
Winner: Bobby Lashley
I’ll see you tonight for a live tweeting session of Extreme Rules 2018.
NOW CHECK OUT THIS PPV PREVIEW: Heaven’s Got A Back Door: McNEILL Previews WWE Extreme Rules 2018! (with a Wrestling History Lesson)