This year’s Extreme Rules feels like a special edition of Monday Night RAW. That is not good.
While no one should ever just roll over and shrug their shoulders, it’s a position we were always going to find ourselves in. With the death of PPV and the rise of the WWE Network, there’s no longer a need to make each main event, for lack of a better term, feel special. Yes, to keep viewers subscribed there needs to be an intriguing hook, but the Network as a whole can take that brunt. It no longer lives or dies based on what happens at the end of the month.
On top of all this, Extreme Rules is suffering from the usual post-Mania slump. For one reason or another, those at WWE are incapable of being creative as soon as ‘The Mains’ draws to close, instead decided to book by the numbers shows until the summer starts to draw close. It’s why Seth Rollins and Randy Orton are appearing multiple times when in reality, there’s no need.
So, what can we expect from the one night in the year when WWE goes extreme? This… maybe:
Tyson Kidd and Cesaro (c) vs The New Day – Tag Team Championship Match
The New Day sucks. And not just because that’s the chant which has now become associated with them. Stop reading this for a second and take a minute to think about The New Day. Who are they? What do they stand for? What’s their point? Almost no work has been done to establish any identity, other than the fact Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Big E have been thrown together and given a stupid name.
Flip this coin, and Tyson Kidd and Cesaro are doing the exact opposite. They may have been partnered because neither had much to do as a singles wrestler, but they’ve developed a personality as a team. Fact.
As long as WWE allows them to continue to run with it, they have a decent chance of actually rejuvenating the tag team division. Unless these bouts keep getting dumped on the pre-show…
Winner: Kidd and Cesaro
Nikki Bella vs Naomi – Divas Championship Match
Naomi’s heel turn is the most GCSE booking of all-time. Even if Booker T does think she’s, potentially, the greatest Diva in history.
Given how good women’s wrestling is in NXT, WWE needs to bite the bullet and bring some of this roster up as soon as possible. I’m not sure if I can take ‘You can look, but you can’t touch’ for much longer.
Winner: Nikki Bella
Dean Ambrose vs Luke Harper – Chicago Street Fight
It’s hard to imagine Dean Ambrose sinking any lower than he currently is. At the end of 2014 he was, arguably, one of the most popular, and over, characters in the company, and even a quick scrawl of any pro-wrestling focused forum today shows this is still very much the case.
And yet he’s treated as an affable mid-carder and nothing more.
This was summed up yet again when WWE decided it was fine to let Harper and Ambrose beat each other up on RAW before Extreme Rules. ‘No one is excited about these two scrapping. It’s just filler. So, therefore, let’s just put it on TV now as we can’t be bothered to inject any creativity into it.’
Luke Harper seems to be suffering from a similar fate, so ultimately the outcome of this could go either way. But let’s plump for the man who has the bigger upside.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
Roman Reigns vs The Big Show – Last Man Standing Match
Winner: Roman Reigns
Dolph Ziggler vs Sheamus – ‘Kiss Me Arse’ Match
Never forget that Sheamus is Irish. WWE forbids it. Hence why we have to be subjected to the first ever ‘Kiss Me Arse’ match.
Forget that the usual ‘Kiss My Ass’ stipulation is ridiculous enough. Now we have to endure it with a xenophobic twist. Excellent.
The real shame is that the fight itself will be pretty good. Ziggler will, once again, bump as if his life depended on it, and Sheamus’ stiff style is entertaining to watch. I wouldn’t mind if he decided to Jerry Lawler it up again and commentate while on the offensive.
The problem comes in the fact that unless WWE finds a way out of it – which negates the idea of the PPV entirely – this ends with Dolph pecking Sheamus’ buttocks.
That doesn’t help anybody…
Daniel Bryan (c) vs Bad News Barrett – Intercontinental Championship Match
The fear is back. After Daniel Bryan was pulled from the WWE’s European tour with little to no reason as to why – other than a secret injury – the same question has been asked over and over again: Is Bryan in more trouble than we currently know?
The man did come back far too early from his neck issues, or so it would seem, and given how he’s been used since then, it’s a mystery as to why he was wasn’t just told to sit at home during Mania season. The extra few months would have given him some needed down time, and his reappearance would’ve ignited the current stale product.
My dreams still hope that Bryan is healthy, has a long IC Title run before going head-to-head with John Cena at SummerSlam in a unification match, but first and foremost he needs to be fit.
If he is, losing the strap this soon after Mania does nothing for nobody.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
John Cena (c) vs Rusev – Russian Chain Match for the United States Championship
WWE is a funny old world. Six months ago I would have been happy for John Cena to be taken off TV entirely until I wasn’t sick of seeing him. Now, his segments are some of the best on television.
Using his star power to make the US Championship feel credible again, the ‘open challenge’ gimmick is creating interesting and new matches each and every week. Barrett, Stardust, Ambrose… Even Kane’s failed attempt was watchable, mainly because the commentators remembered what their damned job was: to get Superstars over. Kane may be a shell of his former self, but at least ‘Maggle’ Cole and friends treated it as if it was a big deal.
The worry with Rusev is suffering another loss to Cena. At this juncture taking the belt off Johnny boy is a bad move, but the Russian being defeated again is no better either. It’s probably why the Russian Chain Match stip has been added in: no one actually needs to be pinned.
Given that ‘Cena Wins (Lol)’, Cena will win, but WWE needs to do everything possible to ensure Rusev leaves looking strong.
Winner: John Cena
Seth Rollins (c) vs Randy Orton – No RKO, Steel Cage match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
I like Seth Rollins. I really do, and he has all the tools needed to be a great champ for years to come. But this match doesn’t interest me in the slightest, mainly because of how dull I find Randy Orton.
These two had a great tussle at WrestleMania 31 with a fantastic finish, but the build from then to now hasn’t made me want to see the two tangle again. It doesn’t help I have no belief whatsoever that ‘The Viper’ has any chance of winning.
A short-lived Rollins title run ruins all the hard work the company did in 2014, and not one seed of doubt has been created over the last few weeks to make me think otherwise. Orton doesn’t like to lose clean, though, so expect a DQ finish when he uses the RKO.
That’s right. A disqualification. In a steel cage match.
Winner: Seth Rollins
Want to hear all the fallout from Extreme Rules and the following RAW? Listen to the new Be-Mpowered Podcast, Wednesday 29th April: