SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE Extreme Rules airs this Sunday on the WWE Network. The television build for the event on Raw and Smackdown has clicked and featured impactful work from many of WWE’s mainstay acts, but the show is stuffed with overly cute, forced, and in some cases ridiculous match stipulations that have plagued that impactful work, making many of the matches impossible to deliver on.
Yes, we’ve got swamp fights, bar brawls, and eyes flying about – all in the name of living up to the new Extreme Rules moniker, the Horror Show. Oh, there are some championship matches, too. Remember those?
Call this a preview, a calm look into the distant future, or a gaze into a wondrous crystal ball; just don’t hold me to anything, ok?
This is my match of the night candidate. Both women have seen a resurgence in their act during the empty arena era and now they’ll collide head on with major stakes on the line in the Raw Women’s Championship. Though a Banks and Bayley led women’s division across the company is intriguing, given what we saw with Shayna Baszler on Monday night leads me to believe we’ll see Asuka retain. Could Bayley accidentally on purpose cause Banks to lose her title opportunity and ignite their long teased feud? I think that’s a good bet with Asuka moving on to a feud with Baszler at Summerslam.
Drew McIntyre vs. Dolph Ziggler (Stipulation TBD) – WWE Championship
Will the match take place on the moon? Maybe a beach? Who knows! McIntyre and Ziggler have done what they can with this one, but the origination of the feud was cold and the week-to-week angles have gotten it to a lukewarm level at best. This will be another line em up, knock em down match with Drew getting the win regardless of the stipulation. I guess you can hold me to that. Then, it’s Orton vs. Drew up next at Summerslam.
Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus (Bar Fight)
This needs to be a Jeff Hardy victory. Authenticity in wrestling is engaging and while this has crossed some lines, Hardy and Sheamus have built a personal feud that does seem to be boiling at the right time. The crossed lines need to be rectified with the babyface going over clean and winning without any strings attached. Hardy needs to overcome in a big way to eliminate the notion that he could fall back into his darkness.
Braun Strowman vs. Bray Wyatt (Swamp Fight)
This is certain to be the cinematic endeavor of the evening. WWE needs to be careful with these, but this makes sense given the swamp stipulation. Wyatt is in his element and needs the non-title win to secure a shot at the championship against Strowman at Summerslam. That’s a good time for the Fiend to appear and to put a bow on the feud one way or another.
MVP vs. Apollo Crews – WWE United States Championship
You read that correctly. MVP’s major client, Bobby Lashley, isn’t wrestling for the United States Championship and MVP is snaking that opportunity for himself. The nerve. MVP vs. Crews has been fulfilling to watch. MVP has carried himself like a player that matters and Crews as babyface meshes nicely back. Lashley not being involved is the question, but tells me something about the finish. Look for Crews to retain and for MVP to yield to his star client for a US title match at Summerslam.
New Day vs. Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura (Tables Match) – Smackdown Tag Team Championship
You have to have a tables match on an Extreme Rules PPV don’t you? This is the car wreck match of the show. I’m expecting a spot heavy bout that ends up being the hidden gem of the night. Both teams ooze talent and their clashes to date have shown chemistry. Cesaro and Nakamura are a formidable team, but the belts stay with New Day.
Bayley vs. Nikki Cross – WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship
The energy that Nikki Cross has brought to her performances within the empty arena era has earned her this opportunity. She is authentic and people are attracted to that. This won’t touch Banks/Asuka in terms of the in-ring product, but Cross will make it interesting because of her personality. As much as a Cross win will make for a feel good moment, the business right now is in Bayley as the champion. The belt gives her heel character credibility and the major match on the horizon is a showdown with Banks down the road. Sorry Cross fans, Bayley to retain.
Seth Rollins vs. Rey Mysterio (Eye For An Eye Match)
Nobody is losing an eye. WWE doubled down on this out of touch stipulation during Raw this week, but we know WWE’s business and they simply can’t go down this road. Rollins vs. Mysterio has been a well-orchestrated feud. Their hatred is palpable and it’s unfortunate that the match will lose credibility because of the eye roll inducing eye for an eye concept. This needs a finish that will overshadow the stipulation. Look for Dominick to side with Rollins in an effort to prevent damage to his Dad.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S TAKE: HEYDORN’S TAKE: Awful stipulation a horror for WWE heading into Extreme Rules