After WrestleMania ended, we jumped right into the countdown to Extreme Rules. Brock Lesnar, who just signed a three year contract, is “indefinitely suspended” and has been off television since the Raw after WrestleMania. Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins and John Cena captured the gold, while Tyson Kidd and Cesaro managed to hold onto theirs. AJ Lee wrestled her last Mania match, retiring just days later. The United States title has been up for grabs every Monday night, while the Divas title hasn’t been defended in god knows how long. I’m not sure how extreme I would rate some of the stipulated matches on the card, but I’m hopeful that we will see some seriously hardcore matches ahead. Let’s take a look at the card and make some predictions.
Tyson Kidd & Cesaro (c) vs The New Day – Kickoff Tag Team Title Match
For the second PPV in a row, Tyson Kidd and Cesaro will be defending their titles on the preshow. These two are without a doubt the best thing about the current tag division. The Ascension is horrible, Gold and Stardust parted ways, The Prime Time Players have yet to do anything other than short promos backstage, Los Matadores aren’t worth talking about, half of The Usos is out due to injury, and the Lucha Dragons may be good in the ring but are currently devoid of personality. That brings us to The New Day, a trio that should have been three tough, no nonsense guys looking to rise to the top. Instead, it became a singing and dancing threesome of idiots. Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods deserve better than the gimmick they’ve been given. Kidd and Cesaro deserve more than another preshow title match. At the very least, there should be a stipulation put in place to make this more interesting. My assumption is that the eventual plan is to have the Lucha Dragons capture the gold in order to cement themselves as a solid team in the WWE. It doesn’t make sense for them to go against anyone except for Kidd and Cesaro if they want to make their victory mean something, meaning New Day likely doesn’t stand a chance.
WINNER: Tyson Kidd and Cesaro, who will likely retain their titles until Summerslam
Roman Reigns vs Big Show – Last Man Standing Match
Thanks to Seth Rollins, Reigns has been taken out of the title picture, replaced with someone more suitable as we bide our time and wait for the return of Brock Lesnar. After winning the Royal Rumble, Reigns was pushed as if he was officially our new top guy. Unfortunately for him, the fans weren’t feeling it and his opportunity at the WWE World Heavyweight Title was snatched up by the former architect of The Shield. Many fans expected Reigns to win and then lose via cash in the following night on Raw, but WWE didn’t even give him that. Now, he’s been pushed down to a mid-card match with Big Show. Show definitely has the size advantage going into this match, but he’s not exactly speedy in the ring. A quick kick to the knees can take the man down, giving Reigns the upper hand and allowing him to take Show down for the ten count. On the other hand, Show proved he can easily dispatch Reigns when he slammed him into the roof of a car on Raw. A Last Man Standing match is exactly what Reigns needs to regain credibility. Big Show isn’t in danger of ruining his career by suffering a loss, but Reigns is. Unless he enters this fight bringing everything he’s got, plus a little bit extra, he could find himself stuck on the midcard from here on out. Reigns needs to tone down the cheesy behavior and come into this match in the same way Lesnar enters a fight. He needs to stop being molded into Cena 2.0 and find his own path and personality.
WINNER: Roman Reigns. This win also needs to bring a major change in character.
Sheamus vs Dolph Ziggler – Kiss Me Arse Match
I’m happy about this match only because it doesn’t fit into our cookie cutter PG era. I’m overly optimistic about this (and other small factors) signaling an upcoming shift away from being so damn kid friendly all the time. The initial predictions for the return of Sheamus involved a lot of Daniel Bryan and zero rooster jokes. While I’m not a fan of the beard beads, I am happy to see Sheamus not holding back anymore. I’m also glad that he wasn’t immediately thrown into the title picture and given the IC belt after months of absence. It’s a given that Sheamus will be gunning for the IC title eventually, but for now his sights are set on Dolph Ziggler, who lost that title back in January. Since losing to Wade Barrett, Ziggler has been involved in tag match after tag match, continuing the battle against The Authority. It will be a good move for both men if this feud is allowed to continue well after Extreme Rules. Sheamus needs time to fully enter his comfort zone in this new character, especially since this is his first time as a heel since 2011. Ziggler needs more time working singles matches instead of constantly being paired with Rowan or Ryback. This is a chance to push Ziggler, fully reestablish Sheamus, and give the fans some honestly good wrestling.
WINNER: Dolph Ziggler. Yes, I’m playing favorites, but I don’t want Ziggler’s mouth anywhere near that sweaty Irish ass.
Daniel Bryan (c) vs Bad News Barrett – Intercontinental Title Match
At the time of this posting, rumor states that Daniel Bryan is not in Chicago and will not compete tonight, but since no official word has been announced, we will assume he will compete. Our new IC champion has not been as active as we would like, due to WWE holding him back either because of fear of injury or because of an unreported one. It’s the reason he’s missed Raw tapings and the reason he’s been booked in six man tags that allow him extra time out of the ring while still being involved in matches. Depending on what website you read, he may or may not have been pulled from the European tour due to a concussion. Bryan’s injury was devastating, mainly due to the timing, so we’re all rallying behind him and hoping for the best, only that may mean that Bryan is pushing himself too hard and too fast in an effort to regain the momentum he had before. Wade Barrett’s Bad News gimmick has all but faded away for reasons unknown. He made a strong comeback and quickly regained the title he was forced to hand over after injury, but I’m unsure what Creative is doing with his character. He’s gone from using a unique gimmick to simply being a heel. It doesn’t make sense to get rid of the Bad News identity, yet we haven’t seen much of it at all. Bryan and Barrett are both strong competitors, but I have to wonder why this match isn’t stipulated. This is Extreme Rules and we need extreme matches. Even if Bryan is susceptible to injury, stipulations can exist to allow for a hardcore match that weighs heavy on Barrett and protects Bryan.
WINNER: Bad News Barrett. If Bryan is injured or held back due to fear of injury, he shouldn’t hold the title.
John Cena (c) vs Rusev – United States Title “Russian Chain” Match
This new version of a strap match will have Cena and Rusev tied together by the finest steel chain Mother Russia has to offer. I’m not a fan of this match, our US champ, or the fact that Rusev’s character has not developed past Evil Russian. All of a sudden, John Cena wants to fight for the United States and the only way he can do this is to win and defend the US title. In what I assume is an effort to restore importance to this title, Cena has been talking about it as if it is the most prestigious thing that anyone anywhere can hold. When he’s not touting the title’s excellence, he is schooling us on Rusev The Evil Foreigner. Not only did Cena give Rusev his first loss, but he is now working to further pigeon-hole the man, making it harder and harder for fans to imagine him as anything but a monster who speaks broken English and hates Americans. It’s counterproductive to building a new athlete’s career and works only to boost Cena’s already inflated ego. It’s quite obvious that the US title will not be changing hands any time in the near future, so we have to have Rusev look strong in another way. We cannot have Super Cena flying around the ring with Rusev as if he was made of feathers. We cannot have Lana interfere in any way. Rusev needs to come into this as angry as possible and he needs to get his revenge. He can lose the match but still win the night if he dismantles Cena without holding back or showing mercy.
WINNER: John Cena, but I hope he’s unable to get to his feet to celebrate.
Nikki Bella (c) vs Naomi – Divas Title Match
Paige won the Divas battle royal to earn a shot at the title, but thanks to “injury” after an attack by Naomi, she has been replaced so she can take leave to film Santa’s Little Helper with The Miz. Naomi has been overdue for a shot at the title. Without a doubt, she is the most athletic female on the roster. Since The Usos won’t be competing together for a few months, Naomi won’t have to worry about accompanying them to the ring and is allowed to go her own way. Her attack on Paige signaled a much needed heel turn. Hopefully new entrance music follows since she is very far removed from her Funkadactyl roots at this point. I haven’t written an article since WrestleMania because I’ve been slightly down over the loss of AJ Lee and what it means for an already weak Divas division. The entire landscape has changed due to her absence, and no one has stepped up yet to fill the gaping hole she left behind. I don’t expect Naomi to do it at Extreme Rules, but it can and should be a stepping stone. Naomi must ditch the “rear view” along with her music and become a beast, something the WWE doesn’t have. I watch TNA and look at Havok and Awesome Kong, wondering why the hell the WWE can’t give me a woman like that. We can get close to that with Naomi. We need a new breed of tougher chicks who are concerned with kicking ass instead of how their hair looks. I’m hoping this is a step in the right direction and not just a fluke while creative figures out their real direction.
WINNER: Naomi. It’s about time the Bella is dethroned.
Dean Ambrose vs Luke Harper – Chicago Street Fight
Dean Ambrose in a street fight is everything that is right with the wonderful world of wrestling. It seems that half the time, WWE doesn’t know what to do with Ambrose. Thankfully, the other half of the time, they book him exactly as they should. He still needs to exact his revenge for Harper slamming him into a ladder last month. In my opinion, Ambrose benefits from being placed into as many stipulated matches and backstage brawls as possible. A nice thing about Ambrose vs Harper is that it came about naturally thanks to the ladder match at WrestleMania; there was no reason for creative to inject anything else into it. With this being a non-title match with nothing on the line, the winner is not important so long as both men make this a true street fight and stay the hell out of the ring. I would love to see this match taken out of the arena entirely. Make it seem like the match was forced to start early because the men began fighting backstage. Grab a ref and allow them to beat each other to the doors and hit the Chicago streets (or Rosemont, if you want to be accurate). Have additional refs or “police” interfere and direct Ambrose and Harper back into the arena so the fans in attendance get some live action, but make sure they bring some weapons along with them. As long as this match holds true to a street fight, it’ll be one of the top segments of the night.
WINNER: Dean Ambrose. Another biased choice, but our resident lunatic needs this win.
Seth Rollins (c) vs Randy Orton – WWE World Heavyweight Title Steel Cage Match; RKO is banned
This will be our new champion’s first title defense, and it’s against the man who unified the WWE and World Heavyweight titles, making himself the first WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Seth Rollins is one of the most brilliant heels in recent history and has been getting better and better each week. Randy Orton has countered by taking the RKO to different levels every time we see him. With his signature move banned and J&J Security unable to assist, we will finally be able to see an honest one-on-one match. Maybe. Kane has been appointed Guardian Of The Gate, which sounds like something out of an 90s fantasy movie. His involvement is meant to ensure that no one interferes with this match, but it’s no secret that he and Rollins haven’t exactly been best friends lately. Kane has been hinting at returning to his demonic roots, which I hope with every fiber of my being means that he’s ditching the Men’s Warehouse getup soon. Even with his dislike of Rollins, it’s no guarantee that Kane would do anything to help Orton get the win here. Not one of these three men play well with others, plus Orton isn’t one to look for others for assistance. Banning the RKO doesn’t mean we won’t get to see it after the final bell rings and the champ’s hands are raised, it just means we’ll be seeing Orton have fun looking for other ways to destroy his competitor. With J&J away from the action, Rollins finally has a chance to stand on his own. Even after leaving The Shield, he hasn’t truly been a one man show. Perhaps this cage match will show him that he doesn’t need J&J, leading to their reassignment or dismissal. While I will be missing Brock Lesnar, I am pretty excited for this main event.
WINNER: Seth Rollins. Our new champ should retain until, and possibly through, Summerslam.
Extreme Rules starts tonight at 8:00PM live on the WWE Network. Tune in to see the carnage!
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker