This Sunday night in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, World Wrestling Entertainment presents Extreme Rules on WWE Network. It’s a night of extreme matches and stipulations…sort of? In years past, it was a show where every match had a stipulation on it to try to make it feel special. This year, some, but not all, matches have stipulations.
There are some big names that are not going to be on this show. Of course, there’s no sign of Universal Champion Brock Lesnar. He is expected to have a match at SummerSlam next month, so at least that’s something soon for him. Ronda Rousey isn’t wrestling because she’s “suspended” in the storyline, but she is being advertised as being in the front row for the Alexa Bliss/Nia Jax Raw Women’s Title match. The Miz won’t be in a match because he’s at the MLB All-Star celebrity softball game on Sunday night. Samoa Joe isn’t booked either, even though he might be there and he might be the next contender for the WWE Title.
What match is the main event of this show? That’s not really known, but there are reports that it is likely Reigns vs. Lashley. That’s what I think it will be too because of the Reigns factor. There just isn’t enough interest in some of the other matches.
Here’s the full lineup:
** Roman Reigns vs. Bobby Lashley
** WWE Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. Rusev
** Steel Cage Match: Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens
** Intercontinental Championship 30-Minute Ironman Match: Dolph Ziggler (c) (w/Drew McIntyre) vs. Seth Rollins
** Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper and Rowan) (c) vs. Team Hell No (Kane and Daniel Bryan)
** Raw Women’s Championship Extreme Rules Match: Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Nia Jax – Ronda Rousey will be sitting in the front row.
** United States Championship: Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
** Smackdown Women’s Championship: Carmella (c) vs. Asuka (James Ellsworth in a shark cage)
** Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin
** Raw Tag Team Championships: Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt (c) vs. The B Team (Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas)
** Tables Match: The New Day vs. Sanity (Kickoff Show)
** Sin Cara vs. Andrade Almas (Kickoff Show)
That’s likely the full card with twelve matches, with ten of those matches on the main card. Here are ten predictions for the show that are mostly about who is going to win the matches. I don’t expect to go perfect, but I think there are some very predictable matches on the card.
10. Sanity will win their first main roster PPV match…even if it’s on the Kickoff Show
I feel like Sanity must win this Tables Match against New Day because they have lost a few times already after just starting on the Smackdown brand, including in the main event of last week’s Smackdown. The rules are that the match will go until one man is put through a table.
Why debut a new group to have them lose? I don’t get it. There needs to be a win for Sanity at Extreme Rules because there’s really no reason for New Day to go over. The feud can continue from here, maybe New Day will get their win back, but I’d really liked to see Sanity booked in a strong way. I’m a big fan of the trio, with Eric Young as the leader, the big hairy man known as Killian Dain, and Alexander Wolfe, who is also pretty good.
It would make sense to have Dain get the win for the team. He can hit a splash off the middle rope onto a New Day member through the table.
9. The B Team’s unlikely run of success will come to an end
It’s nice to see WWE actually invest in a tag team. Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas were left to fend for themselves when The Miz was moved to Smackdown after the Superstar Shake-up in April. Since then, Axel and Dallas were given a team name – “The B Team” (which means “best team,” by the way). They have also racked up wins over a number of different tag teams in WWE as well as a winning a very boring battle royal to earn this title match. Axel and Dallas have each beaten Matt Hardy in singles matches too.
Unfortunately for the B Team, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for them to win the titles. The tag team division on Raw is sorely lacking in terms of quality teams especially on the face side. I think what’s more likely is the Hardy/Wyatt team will get the win and then drop the titles to either the Authors of Pain or The Revival at SummerSlam next month.
The match could be surprisingly good if they get time, but I’m not sure if the crowd will care. What I’m most interested in is the interaction with Wyatt and Dallas, who are brothers. Their dad wrestled in WWE as Irwin R. Schyster and he’s worked backstage in WWE for about 20 years, and helps put together matches. I’m sure the match will be big for that family. It may not be a big deal for us, but it will be for them.
8. Finn Balor will become the next contender for the Intercontinental Title after beating Baron Corbin
The “Constable” Baron Corbin has had issues with Finn Balor over the last month. It’s the typical WWE feud where the taller guy Corbin brags about how much bigger and better he is over the shorter feud. Didn’t we just see that with Big Cass and Daniel Bryan? We did, but this creative team in WWE is really lacking in terms of creativity these days.
I think this feud is being done to set up Balor for a rivalry involving the Intercontinental Title. If Corbin wins, maybe he could go on to feuding with one of the faces like Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman or Roman Reigns, but I’d rather see Balor get the win. Corbin has already got the upper hand enough times that I think Balor winning is the right call.
I know that Balor was challenging for the Intercontinental Title at WrestleMania and came up short. That was The Miz and Seth Rollins, though. With Dolph Ziggler holding the title now (I’ll get to that shortly), it makes sense for Balor to go after the IC Title again, whether it’s Ziggler or Rollins as the champion.
One final thought on this match: I think Balor should have been moved to Smackdown during the Superstar Shake-up in April. It just doesn’t feel like WWE’s management is going to get behind him enough to push him to the top.
7. Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka will win their first titles on the main roster
Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka each won Royal Rumble matches in January. I predicted that big night for WWE’s biggest Japanese stars. At WrestleMania, I thought both would leave with titles with Nakamura as the WWE Champion and Asuka as the Smackdown Women’s Champion. Did it happen? Nope. I think both are worse off today than they were back in January because of the losses they have suffered in the last several months. However, Extreme Rules will be a chance to get them on the right path again.
Nakamura beating Jeff Hardy for the US Title seems likely because this heel turn of Nakamura needs to see him win some gold or else it would be pointless. Plus, Hardy is dealing with a knee injury that may cause him to take a few weeks off at least. I don’t know if he needs surgery, but you can tell he’s moving slower. I think Nakamura will win clean.
The story for Carmella vs. Asuka has been about Carmella being cocky and thinking she is better than Asuka because she beat her thanks to James Ellsworth. This time, Ellsworth is in a cage above the ring, so he can’t interfere. I’m not as confident in an Asuka win, but I feel like if she loses ANOTHER title match (her third in three months), it will do too much damage to her.
If Carmella retains, it might be because Becky Lynch has been racking up the wins on Smackdown in the last couple of months. Lynch vs. Carmella could be the next feud. I’m intrigued by the booking of this match.
6. Ronda Rousey will accidentally cost Nia Jax the Raw Women’s Title
The big selling point of Alexa Bliss vs. Jax (for the third time in a PPV match since WrestleMania in April) is that “suspended” Raw superstar Ronda Rousey will be in the front row. Since the match is Extreme Rules, it means weapons are legal and the women can fight all over the building.
The finish that makes the most sense involves Rousey. I could see Jax and Bliss brawling into the crowd right near Rousey, then Bliss does something to provoke her and maybe Rousey finds a kendo stick or a steel chair at ringside. Rousey can go for Bliss, who ducks and it hits Jax. Bliss kicks Rousey out of the ring, Bliss covers and there’s the win. It would surprise me if Bliss were to lose the Raw Women’s Title one month after she just won it back. I have Bliss winning in cheap fashion.
What that likely means for SummerSlam is that Rousey will challenge Bliss in singles or maybe Jax gets added to make it a triple threat. The story has been told well. It’s better than I thought it was going to be, so kudos to the ladies for playing a big role in that.
If there is one thing we have learned about Raw’s women’s division in 2018 it’s that it’s really about Rousey even when she’s not in the match.
5. Team Hell No will fail to win the Smackdown Tag Team Titles due to miscommunication
This is the toughest match on the card to predict. On the one hand, nostalgia is a lot of fun, so seeing Kane and Daniel Bryan as Tag Team Champions one more time would be really cool to see. On the other hand, Bryan is a lot more fun as a singles wrestler that should be feuding with The Miz at SummerSlam. Why put the Tag Team Titles on him? It doesn’t feel like the right time. Plus, Kane is expected to win the election as the mayor of Knox County, TN on August 2, so it seems unlikely that he would continue wrestling for that much longer. This feels like something to do to try to boost the card with a crowd favorite team. I don’t see Kane sticking around long-term past Extreme Rules when he’ll have a city to run (he’s expected to win), so if Team Hell No does win I expect them to lose a week or two later.
It makes more sense to keep the titles on The Bludgeon Brothers. They have been booked as a dominant team that is hard to keep down. I’d love to see another team be the ones to end this title reign instead of a couple of singles wrestlers that happened to have nothing else to do. The crowd will be into it too, so that will help.
I’m looking forward to Bryan vs. Miz as a main Smackdown feud after this. That rivalry could be special due to all the history they have together. Please make it happen, WWE.
4. Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins will have one of the best WWE matches of the year
I have high expectations for the Ziggler vs. Rollins Ironman Match for the Intercontinental Title. The winner of the match is the man that gets the most falls in 30 minutes. Those falls could take place via pinfall, submission, countout, or disqualification. Keep in mind that Ziggler’s buddy Drew McIntyre will be lurking at ringside to try to interfere as much as he can.
This is a potential match of the year because of the obvious chemistry that exists between Ziggler and Rollins. They are two of the best wrestlers in WWE in having long matches. They’ve gone over 20 minutes on Raw in the last month already, so going 30 shouldn’t be a problem. There is a bit of a concern in terms of the crowd reactions because the fans may not care in the first 20 minutes. I expect them to be pretty loud in the last ten minutes, though.
I’m a fan of the booking of Ironman matches because it needs to be more than pinfalls or submissions. There needs to be a countout or disqualification at least once to help tell a story. I’ll go with Ziggler winning 3-2 thanks to an assist from Drew McIntyre.
It’s been fun watching Rollins in the IC Title picture because he has helped raise the value of that title. With that said, I’d love to see Rollins focusing on the Universal Title again. That’s where he should be.
3. Braun Strowman will continue his dominance over Kevin Owens in a steel cage match
Braun Strowman is on a massive winning streak. The big man did lose a recent Raw tag team match, but he wasn’t involved in the pin. Strowman also lost at the Royal Rumble in a match where Kane was pinned by Brock Lesnar. The last time Strowman was pinned was against Brock Lesnar at No Mercy ten months ago. Since then, Strowman has had big victories in matches like the Greatest Royal Rumble and he won the Money in the Bank match last month.
Is it possible that Owens will win this match? Sure. It could happen in a fluke way where Strowman throws him into the cage and the cage opens with Owens landing on the floor to win. I don’t like that finish because they just did it with Reigns and Lesnar at the Greatest Royal Rumble over two months ago.
Don’t overthink it. This should be an easy win for Strowman even though I hate typing that because I’m a big fan of Owens. Strowman should be the next Universal Champion whether he beats Lesnar in a match at SummerSlam or it’s a Money in the Bank cash-in. Strowman is clearly the guy the fans want. It would be foolish to have him lose this match.
2. AJ Styles will retain the WWE Title against Rusev and will get attacked by Samoa Joe after the match
This is arguably the biggest match of Rusev’s career. You could say that wrestling John Cena at WrestleMania is bigger (the tank entrance was so cool), but this is the first time Rusev is getting a WWE Title match and it’s happening on PPV against the great AJ Styles. That’s cool. I’m genuinely happy for Rusev.
As much as I like Styles as WWE Champion, the title right has become a bit boring after about eight months as champion. There were too many matches between Styles and his rival Shinsuke Nakamura. Rusev is a fine follow up, but it feels like a placeholder feud until Styles defends against a bigger name at SummerSlam. I have Styles retaining in a competitive match with Rusev looking strong for most of it.
I added the Samoa Joe part because that’s what I want to see. When I previewed Money in the Bank last month, I thought it would be great to see Joe with the Money in the Bank Briefcase. Instead, he failed to win it and he’s not even on this show. That seems weird to me. That’s why I’m going with Joe attacking Styles. I’m not sure of that by any means. It’s something I would do to kickstart a Styles feud with Joe that leads to a SummerSlam match where Joe becomes the WWE Champion. That’s how I want to see things play out.
1. Roman Reigns will beat Bobby Lashley in the main event in front of a disinterested crowd
The build to Roman Reigns vs. Bobby Lashley has been pretty good. I like the motives of both characters. Lashley feels like he is the best man in WWE that can beat Brock Lesnar for the Universal Title while telling Reigns that he should step aside because he lost to Lesnar twice. Meanwhile, Reigns wants to prove he’s still the “big dog” on Raw that wants to shut Lashley up because Reigns wants more shot at Lesnar since he believes he is the uncrowned Universal Champion.
The start of this past week’s Raw featured a wild brawl between Reigns and Lashley (see the highlights above). I thought it was very well done like most WWE brawling segments where the locker room empties out to break up a fight. Most people I talked to about it liked it, but the Reigns haters were out in full force to tell me it was terrible. It was the perfect example of the Reigns haters showing bias against him to hate on anything the guy does. I like Reigns and feel like he is booked terribly because he should have been a heel three years ago. He would have been way more over as a face right now if he did that heel run. Instead, here we are.
Like I said earlier, I think Reigns vs. Lashley will go on last because as we all know, WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon wants to push Reigns the most. He wants the fans to view Reigns as the biggest star on either brand. By putting him in the main event, Vince accomplishes that goal. The problem is the fans have rejected Reigns for the majority of the last four years, yet WWE continues to book him as if everybody likes him. In WWE’s eyes, what really matters is that Reigns garners one of the loudest reactions on the show and that’s because of the massive push he has received in his career.
It’s a battle between two guys that believe they are the better man. Is there anything on the line in this match? No. And that’s something that hurts the match. In fact, it hurts the whole card because WWE has done a poor job of telling us when somebody might get a title shot at the Universal Title. We know online that it might be SummerSlam, but on WWE they are keeping the audience in the dark and it’s hurting the show.
I’ll go with Reigns winning a competitive match that should be good because Lashley looks a lot more comfortable now after that bad feud with Sami Zayn. I think the crowd isn’t going to care even though both guys will try hard, which is a shame. Hopefully, we know more about the Universal Title situation on Monday’s Raw. We have to get through Extreme Rules first.
It’s going to be a long night with ten matches on the main card and eleven matches overall. The crowd is probably going to be dead for some of it because it’s so difficult to stay loud for that long. The last pay-per-view, Money in the Bank, went over four hours and that’s what I expect for Extreme Rules too. If it goes for 3.5 hours that would be even better.
The lineup is okay. Rollins vs. Ziggler is the match I want to see the most, but I’m also intrigued by Styles vs. Rusev and Reigns vs. Lashley just to see how those matches will go and how the fans will react. I think some of the matches are a tough sell to the average WWE fan, so that’s why Extreme Rules comes off as just an average show without a lot of fanfare. With SummerSlam looking in one month, that is clearly the bigger event that will have the better matches.
You can watch WWE Extreme Rules this Sunday, July 15th at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on WWE Network. There’s also a one-hour Extreme Rules Kickoff show starting at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT as well. If you miss it live, you can watch it on demand at your own convenience. I’ll be back on Monday for a review of the event.