Extreme Rules Preview

We’re into our seventh iteration of Extreme Rules, WWE’s ECW callback, taking place this Sunday from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. Despite the title of the pay-per-view, I can’t say that at the end of the day I’ll look at any of these matches as having been “extreme.”

Of the eight matches on the card, here’s how I’d rank them from most to least extreme:

Chicago Streetfight – Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper
Russian Chain match (US Title) – John Cena © vs. Rusev
Steel Cage match (WWE WHC) – Seth Rollins © vs. Randy Orton
Last Man Standing match – Roman Reigns vs. Big Show
Intercontinental title match – Daniel Bryan © vs. Bad News Barrett
Tag Team Championship match – Tyson Kidd and Cesaro © vs. The New Day
WWE Divas Championship match – Nikki Bella © vs. Naomi
Kiss Me Arse match – Dolph Ziggler vs. Shaemus

The main problem I have with these gimmicky pay-per-views is that they tend to just recycle the same matches over and over again. It’s as if the participants themselves don’t matter, just that the WWE can show that they can be “brutal” and “extreme” even in a PG era.

Looking back at the matches from the past six Extreme Rules PPVs and nearly every card features some form of a strap match, a steel cage match or a last man standing match. In fact, for being an Extreme Rules PPV why is there no Extreme Rules match on the card this year?

YearMatch Stipulations
2009- Fatal four-way (US Title)
- No Holds Barred (IC Title)
- Samoan Strap match
- Triple Threat Hardcore match (ECW Title)
- Handicap Hog Pen match
- Steel Cage match (WWE title)
- Submission match
- Ladder Match (World Heavyweight Championship)
2010- Gauntlet tag team match
- Hair match
- Strap match
- Extreme Rules match (WHC)
- Streen Fight
- Extreme Makeover match
- Steel Cage match
- Last Man Standing match
2011- Singles match
- Last Man standing match
- Tables match (US Title)
- Tag Team Country Whipping match
- Falls Count Anywhere match
- No Count-Out, No DQ Loser Leaves WWE match
- Ladder Match (WHC)
- Lumberjack match (Tag Team titles)
- Triple Threat Steel Cage match (WWE Title)
2012- Singles match (US Title)
- Falls Count Anywhere match
- Singles match
- Tables match (IC Title)
- Two out of Three Falls match (WHC)
- Handicap match
- Chicago Street Fight (WWE Title)
- Singles match (Divas title)
- Extreme Rules match
2013- Singles match
- Singles match
- Singles match (US Title)
- Strap match
- “I Quit” match (No. 1 contender WHC)
- Tornado Tag match (Tag Titles)
- Extreme Rules match
- Last Man Standing match (WWE Title)
- Steel Cage match
2014- WeeLC match
- Triple Threat Elimination match
- Handicap match
- Singles match (IC Title)
- Six-man Tag match
- Steel Cage match
- Singles match (Divas title)
- Extreme Rules match (WWE WHC)

The thing about a stipulation match or a gimmick match like each of these on the card is that a stipulation should mean something within a feud, not just be something thrown in the match because “welp, it’s Extreme Rules so let’s see how we can integrate our ‘extreme’ side.”

This isn’t to say that I’m not looking forward to the PPV this weekend. Ever since the inception of the WWE Network I’ve looked forward to every PPV because I was never able to watch them growing up. It’s just that while this card looks decent overall, nothing jumps out at me as being can’t miss action.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Steel Cage match
Winner: Seth Rollins

This match is intriguing in that it is Seth Rollins’ first defense of his title and therefore he needs to prove himself worthy of being the champ. Ever since Rollins split away from the Shield he’s been the best heel on the WWE roster and has excelled as a singles performer. He and Randy Orton have great chemistry in the ring and with the belt on the line, fans are going to be clamoring for face Orton to win and heel Seth to get his comeuppance.

The only problem for me is that the outcome of this match is inevitable. First, there’s no way that Rollins holds the briefcase for eight months, cashes in at Wrestlemania and then loses in his first title defense. Also, the addition of Kane as the “Guardian of the Gate” is a blatant way of saying “Kane will somehow screw over Seth Rollins by not letting him escape.” Normally the WWE isn’t as transparent about match interference. At least have Kane come out mid-match when the fans might think he’s there to help Rollins only to turn on him at a pivotal moment.

With the RKO banned, I am looking forward to the possibility of Seth Rollins busting out the RKO since I’m guessing the stipulation only prevents Orton from using it. Also, since the RKO is “banned” what happens if Orton uses it? Is he DQ’d? Would they really have a Steel Cage Match end in a disqualification. I imagine we’ll see the previously banned Orton punt and I wouldn’t be surprised if somehow Kane is inadvertently on the other end of the punt when he’s at or near the cage door. Maybe Kane is helping Rollins, who then moves out the way at the last second and Kane take the punt. Then Kane has a reason to screw Rollins later in the match. I guess that could work.

United States Championship Russian Chain match
Winner: Rusev

I’ve gone back and forth on this match trying to figure out who is going to win and if the WWE would really have John Cena lose a title match one month after winning a belt. It’s not as if John Cena hasn’t defended the title though. He’s probably defended the US Title more between Wrestlemania and Extreme Rules than any championship has been defended between PPV’s. However, if the WWE is high on Rusev and wants to build him as a dominant force for years to come, losing consecutive matches to SuperCena, including one with RUSSIAN in the gimmick name, is not a good look.

Rusev and John Cena have actually had one of the more enjoyable feuds in WWE during the past couple months and have had me looking forward to each of their matches. It’s refreshing to see a US Title feud stretched out over multiple months and multiple matches when before it was Rusev taking on a challenger, winning and then moving on to another challenger the next month. I was about to say I see John Cena ultimately retaining here, but then I can’t see a reasonable storyline that gets the belt off him. I think Rusev wins, Cena moves back up the card toward the main event scene (yawn) and Rusev goes back to dominating the mid-card. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Rusev won, determines the US Title is beneath him, forfeits the belt and tried to stake his claim to a WWE WHC title shot.

Last Man Standing match
Winner: Roman Reigns

Another match on the card where there is no doubt about the winner. Despite the Big Show claiming that nobody can stop him and that he does what he wants when he wants, his entire history screams otherwise. Meanwhile, if the WWE really wants Roman Reigns to become “THE GUY” then sticking him in a seemingly endless feud with Big Show is not doing him any favors. If the WWE is smart, they’ll probably throw this match in the dead spot on the card because no matter where it is, the crowd is going to crap all over it anyway. I can almost guarantee you that the Big Show will dominate much of the match and the commentators will talk about how Roman Reigns can take a beating but never gives up. Then he’ll start his comeback and pull out the triple Superman punch move and everybody will freak out that he knocked the big man off his feet. In the end, this match will underwhelm and the winner will be showered with boos.

Chicago Street Fight
Winner: Dean Ambrose

Here you have the match that will easily end up being the most extreme of the night. I also wouldn’t be surprised if it was the first match of the night as well. Despite constant losses, the fans still love to cheer Dean Ambrose and you know he’s always good to pull off some spectacular spots. With a big man like Harper to catch him, we know Ambrose will be jumping off something at some point. Since both of these guys seem to lose all their high profile matches, this is a match where the gimmick is more important than the competitors and I’m okay with that. Also, don’t color me surprised if either or both of these men shed some blood the hard way. With the outcome truly in doubt as to who will win this match, I’d expect the face, Ambrose, to go over, getting the crowd revved up to begin the night.

WWE Divas Championship match
Winner: Nikki Bella

Can anybody explain to me why Naomi turned heel? I get that she was screwed out of her title shot by not winning the battle royal despite having pinned the champ twice in singles matches. However, who really wants to cheer for the Bellas? If you want Naomi to get her title shot why not just have her win the Battle Royale by beating all challengers, keep her a face the fans will support and keep the Bellas in the heel role they play so well. Regardless, I expect Nikki Bella to retain and, if she is in fact turning face, to hold the title until an NXT diva is ready to make her main roster debut (cough cough, Charlotte, cough cough).

Tag Team Championship
Winner: Cesaro and Kidd

Cesaro and Kidd have only held the titles since February and that’s why I see them retaining here, it’s just too soon to have them drop the belts. That being said, I would expect a full-blown heel effort from The New Day trying to pull out all the stops to win. Despite being on the pre-show, I would expect this match to get 10-15 minutes and to feature non-stop action throughout. With each team having a high-flier (Kidd and Kofi) and a big man (Cesaro and Big E) it sets the stage for a quintessential tag team title match. My guess is this ends in a disqualification, continuing the feud and solidifying The New Day as heels.

Kiss Me Arse match
Winner: Shaemus

Shaemus hasn’t been a heel long enough to get his comeuppance and Dolph Ziggler is great in his role as the valiant baby face who is never quite good enough to score a big win on his own. The gimmick/stipulation itself is dumb, but since it only comes in to play after the match itself, I’d expect these two to put on a good match that is hard hitting with high energy. After this match is over though, I cringe to think about Jerry Lawler’s commentary when a man will be supposedly be kissing another man’s arse. The match itself might be good, but the post-match will not.

Intercontinental Championship match
Winner: no contest

Sadly, it sounds like Daniel Bryan will be on the shelf for a couple weeks after an injury during the European Tour and will be unable to defend his title at Extreme Rules. Hopefully they don’t make him vacate the title because of injury because that would really suck if Daniel Bryan’s last two title reigns ended prematurely and without contest. Hopefully they can reasonably explain Bryan’s absence and allow him to keep the belt and defend it next month.