John: It's time for WWE Extreme Rules on Sunday night from the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The first PPV (or Special Event) following WrestleMania is usually pretty good because stories from WrestleMania often lead to matches at Extreme Rules and that's the case this year too. The top three matches got a lot of television time in the last month, so they have been built up really well. That's something WWE usually does very well.
Before we get to the preview, why don't we all watch that fantastic choir from Monday's Raw one more time? Those kids did an amazing job.
That song is catchy too. Admit it.
Here's a look at everything on the card with predictions of every match. Joining me for the preview is TJRWrestling's Christian Michael. Andrew Johnson couldn't make it this month.
(Note: All graphics are from WWE.com. The banner is courtesy of our friend Steve Melo.)
WeeLC Kickoff Pre-show Match: El Torito vs. Hornswoggle
Christian: What in the blue hell exactly is a WeeLC Match? All WWE.com says is that it is a modified version of a TLC Match. If Hornswoggle and El Torito are going to smack each other with ladders and chairs for five minutes, I’ll probably watch it. If not, I’ll probably go buy a pretzel or something.
Prediction - El Torito
John: I actually don't hate this match as much as most people because I think Torito is awesome. Hornswoggle is much better as a 3MB member then he was as the original Hornswoggle character too. What bothers me is that they're putting this on a PPV. I understand that the kids might like it, but there are so many other talented wrestlers that will be watching this show that could have been in a match like this. I'll take Hornswoggle just because he's a crafty heel now.
WWE Intercontinental Title: Big E vs. Bad News Barrett
Christian: Big E has fallen under the curse of the midcard champion. He had a lot of potential (and still does) when he debuted as Dolph Ziggler’s bodyguard. WWE turned him babyface and gave him a run with the Intercontinental Championship. This run with the title has passed Curtis Axel’s reign in the boredom department. At least Axel had Paul Heyman and matches with CM Punk to keep me interested. Big E shows no personality and is rather sloppy in the ring at times. There’s still hope for Big E but he needs a heel turn and a fresh start now.
Here comes the Bad News for Big E, he’s losing this match. Barrett’s new persona is getting over with the fans and he’s always been an above average wrestler capable of having good matches. His problem is WWE keeps stalling on his pushes and then throws the Intercontinental Championship on him because they think it is a good idea. I’d rather Barrett not win this title for the 32nd time but it seems as if that is going to be the case. Hopefully, there won’t be more Bad News with another boring, pointless Intercontinental Championship reign.
Prediction- Bad News Barrett becomes the new Intercontinental Champion
John: That tournament to determine the top contender for the IC Title was a great idea in theory, but they did a poor job of having a final match that was memorable. It was as if Barrett's match with RVD didn't even matter compared to the storyline that RVD was thrust into. Barrett did have an impressive win in the tournament over Sheamus and it's nice to see him with momentum. His character reboot has been really interesting to see.
It seems as if Big E is a forgotten man because he's barely been visible on television for months now and when he is, all we ever see him doing is watching others have matches. He's still somebody in his late 20s with a really bright future, so I think he has a lot of value long term.
Does a win for Barrett really elevate him? Not sure. He's been IC Champ three times before. I feel like what they should do is have Big E retain in this match and then either keep the feud going or have Barrett target a bigger fish so to speak so then he can be seen as a bigger star. Winning or losing the IC Title doesn't really help him that much. Just because Barrett has been featured on TV more does not mean he's going to win. It's just a way to build him up as a credible challenger. I think Big E finds a way to retain, but don't be surprised if the feud continues for another month.
Winner: Big E
WWE Divas Title: Paige vs. Tamina Snuka
Christian: I really want to like Paige but I don’t. I want there to be a “savior” of the Divas division so we can get some quality matches and feuds from the Divas but I don’t see it in Paige. Maybe it’s because of the meek way she confronted AJ Lee to the horrible Paige Turner she hit to win the title or the 17 victories over Aksana and Alicia Fox. Maybe she will grow on me, but I don’t see it happening in a match with Tamina Snuka. Snuka, who despite the pedigree and look, is just another underwhelming Divas competitor. I’ll probably be chugging beers with some strangers outside section 120 during this one.
Prediction- Paige retains the Divas Championship
John: There's no reason for Paige to lose this match. She's been the Divas Champion for about a month now and has been impressive in doing so. Her offense looks credible. She's won over the fans already. All she needs now are some credible wins. Tamina's been booked strongly as a heel although one thing I don't like about her is that she uses the Superfly Splash. Just because her dad did it doesn't mean she should. She's a power wrestler that should be doing only power moves. Her dad was a high flyer. She is not. It doesn't look good. Anyway, this should be a win for Paige in a competitive 7 minute match where she could be booked as the underdog due to Tamina being the bigger of the two women.
Handicap Match: Alexander Rusev vs. R-Truth & Xavier Woods
Christian: So, I’m paying good money to sit in the crowd for a PPV to watch a match I’d skip through on RAW? Nope. If WWE loves me they’ll put this on right after the Divas Match so I can continue my beer chugging. I may pop my head through the curtain to peek at Lana. Hopefully it’s over before Lana can finish saying “RUSEV CRUSH”.
Prediction- Alexander Rusev
John: It's the easiest match to predict. Obviously Rusev gets the win over two guys that are barely on TV at this point. My favorite part of the match will be all the times Lana is on screen. It should be a dominant win by Rusev in under five minutes. Maybe even three minutes.
Winner: Alexander Rusev
Rob Van Dam vs. Cesaro vs. Jack Swagger
Christian: This is my sleeper pick for match of the night. It’s an elimination match so I wouldn't expect to see Jack Swagger stick around too long. Cesaro should be really over in a “smart” crowd like New Jersey. Cesaro is the logical pick here because he is the guy with the biggest upside and is seemingly getting the push. RVD will always be in the spot he’s in. He’s a popular guy that WWE knows they can slot against top talents because the fans believe in him. Swagger is just a lost talent.
I would have preferred RVD vs. Cesaro based on their interactions in the Intercontinental Tournament but I guess you can’t forget Cesaro's beef with Swagger. This is WWE’s way of killing three birds with one stone. The third bird is adding another stipulation match to a PPV that is supposed to be filled with them but yet really feels empty in that regard.
John: This was mentioned as an elimination match, which is cool with me. They don't do elimination three ways enough. It's more enjoyable to watch. It's weird that Swagger is even in the match since Cesaro beat him clean a couple of times. Nobody is going to think Swagger has a chance here, nor should they. They did the Cesaro/RVD story because Cesaro lost to RVD in the IC Title tourney and then Cesaro cost RVD in the finals.
It's so weird to see Cesaro still in a heel role considering how much the fans want to cheer him. They will turn him face down the road, but having Heyman with him is a good way to keep him heel. As for RVD, he's a guy in his early 40s that has some credibility left. That's why they'll have Cesaro get a win over him. On a side note, can somebody tell Michael Cole that RVD's offense isn't "innovative" if he's been doing the same moves for about 15 years now? Maybe it was in 1999. Not now. Thank you. Expect a clean win for Cesaro since he's clearly a star on the rise.
Steel Cage Match: John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt
Christian: The last time I was at a PPV at the Izod Center, John Cena had a very boring Cage Match with The Big Show. I wasn’t into that match at all. Now, it’s a different story. The pure genius that was the children’s choir on RAW has really ratcheted up my interest in this match. Cena’s win at WrestleMania and subsequent joking promos towards the Wyatts really cooled this feud. Bray Wyatt is a serious guy and a Photoshop comedy promo is just the absolute worst things to do in a feud with him. WWE more than made up with it with the children’s choir though. It was equal parts creepy and awesome.
Cena wants the match inside of a cage to keep out Harper and Rowan. Funny, how at WrestleMania, he didn’t have a cage, Harper and Rowan interfered and he still won. Wyatt needs to win this match. He didn’t need to win at WrestleMania but he can’t lose two straight PPV matches to Cena. It’s not right for the story or the character. I’m more interested in the finish than the actual match because I think WWE has something crazy up their sleeve to put Wyatt over.
Prediction- Bray Wyatt
John: When they had their match at WrestleMania it was the toughest match to predict on that card. It was also one where I wrote that no matter who won, they would likely have a rematch that the WrestleMania loser would win. Here we are at Extreme Rules coming off the heels of Cena's WrestleMania win and I'm thinking they have to book Wyatt to win here. If they don't it would hurt any momentum he's built up since they put him over Daniel Bryan clean at the Royal Rumble. You want Wyatt to be a top guy? Give him the win here.
Cena doesn't need wins. He can lose 20 matches in a row and people would absolutely believe it if he won the WWE Title the next night. However, he's not at a point in his career where WWE is going to turn him into the older babyface wrestler that loses all the time. Cena's 37, but that's not that old. He's got plenty of years left as a top guy. It's great that he's feuding with a guy ten years younger than him like Wyatt is. That's an encouraging sign.
The steel cage setting is interesting because Cena said he wanted it as a way to keep Erick Rowan and Luke Harper from interfering. Cena beat Wyatt clean at WrestleMania without those two doing anything. This one feels like a match that will still have interference because I think it's unlikely that Cena is going to lose clean to Wyatt even in a cage match. Maybe a fourth Wyatt Family member debuts. Something special has to happen for Cena to lose this match. The booking of this one is very intriguing to me. I'm looking forward to it.
Winner: Bray Wyatt
WWE World Heavyweight Championship (Extreme Rules Match): Daniel Bryan vs. Kane
Christian: The last time I was at a PPV at the Izod Center, Daniel Bryan and Kane were involved in the WWE Title match as well. I guess it’s just a coincidence just like with Cena being involved in two Cage Matches. Anyway, I’m glad they made this an Extreme Rules Match. Because A. how can you have a PPV called Extreme Rules and not have an Extreme Rules Match? And B. this match really needed that stipulation.
We’ve seen a lot a Bryan vs. Kane one on one matches so this needed something to freshen it up. It also needed to get a little more violent than your average bout after the way Kane injured Bryan and tormented his wife. Kane made it personal so now Bryan has to get revenge with more than just wrestling holds. WWE did a good job of building Kane back up to being the “demon” in just two weeks to make him a viable challenger to Bryan’s title. I don’t think anyone expects Kane to win but at least we should have a fun match on our hands and Bryan can get his first title defense under his belt against a reliable veteran.
Prediction- Daniel Bryan retains the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
John: If Kane won the WWE Title here that would really piss off fans, right? It would piss me off too. I really doubt that it will happen, though. Bryan is being booked like the underdog even though he's the WWE Champion. That's because they have really pushed Kane's "new" character direction hard. By bringing back the masked version of Kane, it makes fans forget about the fact that he lost a lot of matches as Corporate Kane, including several to Bryan. Kane is the oldest wrestler on the active roster, so he brings a lot of credibility to the table even though some fans may not consider him a big name anymore since he's been repackaged so many times the last few years.
The Extreme Rules stipulation means that Bryan's win will likely be clean or at least decisive in some way. Don't be surprised if he incorporates a weapon into the finish. Perhaps the use of a steel chair or a kendo stick with the Yes Lock like he's done against Randy Orton in the past. Even though a Bryan is very likely, there's a chance the feud continues past Extreme Rules too. Maybe Kane will attack him after the match or on Monday's Raw. It's hard to know who Bryan's next challenger will be, but I see him retaining his championship here.
As an aside, can they just ditch the World Title? Keep the WWE Title because it has the company logo on it and it's only been around for a year. It's ridiculous to have a guy still carrying around two titles at a time.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
The Shield (Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins) vs. Evolution (Triple H, Batista & Randy Orton)
Christian: I’ve heard a few people complain that they are upset that this match is a standard six man tag. I hear you, but I say this: All three of the Wyatt vs. The Shield matches were standard six man tags and they were all balls to the wall, awesome matches. Rules will be more than bent in this one. I’m really looking forward to this match and being in the Izod Center to watch it live. The atmosphere should be amazing.
I’ve heard that Batista is not advertised past Extreme Rules so he can go and promote Guardians of the Galaxy which comes out in August. If that’s the case then this Evolution reunion is going to be a short one and there is no reason for them to win. If Batista is going to stick around another month or so, I can see WWE wanting to do this match again at Payback with some sort of stipulation. That to me would mean an Evolution win. The PPV after Payback is Money in the Bank. Two straight losses to Evolution could lead to The Shield’s split and then one of them possibly scaling the Ladder in July. It’s something to keep in mind. If this match is as good as I expect it to be, I’ll be leaving the Izod Center knowing I got my money’s worth.
John: This feels like the main event to me. Whether it goes on last or not, we have no idea at this point. Maybe some people would be upset because Daniel Bryan wouldn't be in the main event, but I think it's fine if this match goes on last because it's a match that is elevating The Shield just because of who they are in the ring with. Earlier this week I wrote about how Evolution was WWE's best stable ever and it's because they were booked in a way that elevated everybody in the group. You don't always get that. The Shield is on that same path, which is why this match is something to get excited about.
Something that I've written about many times in the last month is that I feel like The Shield is going to break up soon. That's not a bold prediction, I know. They turned face so that Ambrose & Rollins can turn on Reigns with the goal of making Reigns a bigger babyface star. The thing about that is they have a lot of time to do it because the big babyface push of Reigns will likely happen early next year around the time of the Royal Rumble. If his buddies turn on him perhaps in the Money in the Bank match then that would set up some big matches in the summer. The point is there's no need to do it now.
The reunion of Evolution has been fun to watch just because they did a great job of staying apart for most of the past ten years. They've all feuded with one another many times, but they were not a heel group again. That's a big reason why they're fresh right now. When Batista said they have won 31 combined World Titles that speaks volumes of their credibility. Seeing The Wyatt Family against The Shield was a lot of fun, but Evolution is on a whole other level.
My feeling is that The Shield will win a classic battle after 20 minutes of action with Reigns getting the win for his team. They haven't teased a split of any kind. If they lost the match then maybe that could lead to some kind of issue with them, but my feeling is they can still do that down the road. There's plenty of time for The Shield to do the split. Not yet. This win will be the biggest of their careers. It will be a happy ending at Extreme Rules.
Winners: The Shield
Christian: In case you didn’t pick up on the (not so) subtle hints, I’ll be attending Extreme Rules this Sunday. It’s only a ten minute drive from my house so it makes sense to go. The top three matches should make the PPV entertaining but the undercard is really lacking except for maybe the Triple Threat. For a PPV called Extreme Rules, it doesn’t really seem that extreme. I know we have a Cage Match and an Extreme Rules Match but previous editions of this PPV had all the matches on the card being contested with some sort of stipulation. I’m sorry but a Handicap Match and a Triple Threat Elimination Match just doesn’t do it for me. It should be a fun show and WWE rarely disappoints when coming to the NJ/NY area so I’m looking forward to it. I’ll be in Section 230 so tweet me if you’re there and maybe I’ll let you buy me a beer.
John: It's a show that will depend on the quality of the top three matches. If they all get 20 minutes and they all tell the right kind of story then it's going to be an above average show. I think the booking of the Cena/Wyatt and Evolution/Shield matches are both very interesting. Those are the matches people will be talking about the most come Monday morning. The midcard could be better, but it's not that bad. I am cautiously optimistic about Extreme Rules.
Since my Toronto Raptors game 7 will be played on Sunday at 1pmET, my evening is free and that means I'll be able to write about Extreme Rules live at 8pmET on TJRWrestling.com. There will be a full recap of everything that happened with the results and analysis of everything on the show. I'll post it at other sites on Monday.
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