April 22, 2015
Not only is the pay-per-view after WrestleMania one of the most important events of the year, it’s a time for WWE to go to the extreme. Certainly, it won’t be supplying a product that replicates the era of Extreme Championship Wrestling, but this event was certainly inspired by the now-defunct promotion headed by Paul Heyman.
With almost each match having a stipulation added, Extreme Rules is usually the denouement of some of the biggest feuds in WWE. You can watch it free on the WWE Network! That’s right, the WWE Network is free for the month of April for new subscribers, so you can catch WWE’s most extreme night of the year at no cost should you subscribe to the Network. You can subscribe here.
Let’s see who I think will walk out of the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois victorious Sunday night.
Tyson Kidd & Cesaro (c) vs. The New Day [Kofi and Big E]
This match came to us out of nowhere, as the No. 1 contenders match on Raw between The New Day and the Lucha Dragons culminated in a New Day win, which nobody expected. Cesaro and Kidd are supposed to be heels, although they are cheered more and more each week because their tag team is simply awesome. The New Day continues to garner more and more heat week after week due to the crowd finally turning on them by not buying their “we’re good guys” schtick. I don’t think giving The New Day the tag titles is a smart move because as far as crowd reaction goes, Kidd and Cesaro blow them out of the water. They put on quality matches each week and I think they deserve a longer run with the tag team titles.
Your winners and STILL WWE Tag Team champions: Kidd and Cesaro
Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler
Ever since Sheamus’ return, his new look has garnered him some “You look stupid!” chants each week. I have to agree with the audience. Sheamus looks ridiculous and I can’t take him serious as an on-air character. If he were still a face, I might be able to buy it. But as an ass-kicking heel, it doesn’t work for me. But a returning superstar usually always piles up the wins, so look for Sheamus to have a great match with Ziggler before getting the win with his Brogue Kick.
Your winner: Sheamus
Nikki Bella (c) vs. Naomi
Paige was originally supposed to challenge for the Divas Championship, but after Naomi’s attack on her a few weeks ago, she’s been put out of action indefinitely. In reality, she’s filming a new WWE film with The Miz and needs time off. Enter Naomi, who is still playing the heel. The Bellas are also supposed to be heels, so this match might be a little confusing to viewers that aren’t sure who to root for. While this is good for the #GiveDivasAChance movement, I don’t think this will end with the championship changing hands.
Your winner and STILL Divas champion: Nikki Bella
Roman Reigns vs. Big Show
The very least-interesting feud in WWE gets a Last Man Standing stipulation this Sunday night, which might make for some cool spots for the big men involved. Big Show is so boring that I’m not sure I won’t pay attention to this match at all when it comes on Sunday night. The most interesting story he’s been involved in the last few years was being fired by Triple H and returning to allow Cody Rhodes and Goldust to win the Tag Team Championship from The Shield. Then you have Roman Reigns, who completely fell off the mountain of good graces with the WWE audience, and who might have had his huge career-changing moment permanently altered due to the ending of WrestleMania 31. Reigns can’t make anyone care enough about a match with Show, which is why I’m hoping some huge spot ends this match so we don’t have to see Show for a while. The stipulation is nice, but I’m not sure anything could make this match worth watching.
Your winner: Roman Reigns
Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper
This match should be a fun brawl and likely a one-off because I’m not sure I would be interested in a months-long feud of Ambrose and Harper. I love both guys, but with virtually nothing to fight for, one match with crazy spots may do the trick for me. Billed as a “Chicago Street Fight,” WWE is playing off of the event’s location as well as there being something to expect that regular Street Fights don’t give the audience. What is there to expect differently, you ask? I have no idea. I just know this will be a fun match and I’m picking the face to walk out with the victory.
Your winner: Dean Ambrose
Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Bad News Barrett
Since JBL and Michael Cole mentioned on Monday Night Raw that Daniel Bryan might not be able to defend his championship Sunday night, more news has come out on the condition of Bryan. According to WWE.com, Bryan is undergoing “diagnostic testing” to see if he’ll be able to compete at Extreme Rules, while Bad News Barrett waits in the wings for his Intercontinental Championship rematch. If this match does happen, I could see Barrett walking away the champion with the health of Bryan still a question mark. We’ll continue to update this as we move closer to Sunday, but if the match does happen, I’m picking Barrett to walk out with Intercontinental gold.
Your winner and NEW Intercontinental champion: Bad News Barrett
John Cena (c) vs. Rusev
Go figure that this match is the one I’m looking forward to the most Sunday night. I’ve loved the build in this feud from February to March to April, and it just gives me an old-school feeling seeing the U.S. feud with Russia. It’s easy to care about storylines like this, as WWE has proven over the years with various angles pitting foreigners against Americans. Add in the United States Championship, and we have a secondary title in WWE that means something again. With the rivalry between Cena and Rusev escalating each week, I think Sunday night will be the best match of the series between these two combatants, which will end in a title change. I didn’t think Rusev should have lost the United States Championship so early at WrestleMania, but I love how WWE has booked Cena since then. I wouldn’t be mad if Cena were to get the win over Rusev again, but they absolutely have to make Rusev look strong or risk damaging his character down the road. I think Lana will return and help Rusev regain the championship he never should have lost.
Your winner and ONCE AGAIN United States champion: Rusev
The RKO is banned
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Randy Orton
I love how the feud between Rollins and Orton has been booked since WrestleMania, especially with the way WrestleMania 31 ended the same way WrestleMania X did – a wrestler losing a match earlier in the evening just to come back and win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the main event. Certainly, Seth Rollins still has a long way to go to even compare to Bret Hart, but his first title defense will be a great one. I think these two in a steel cage will tell a better story than their WrestleMania match did, and the fact it gets to headline a pay-per-view will give them even more motivation to go out and tear the house down. Add in Kane as the “Guardian of the Gate” and we have ourselves a more interesting wrinkle in the story. Is it needed? I’d say no, but it’s clear the booking has shown tension between Rollins and Kane for weeks, so it makes sense given the story they’re telling us.
In fact, it seems like WWE has added layer after unneeded layer to the Orton and Rollins feud as the weeks go on. First, Orton rejoining The Authority just to turn on Rollins was not necessary and didn't make the storyline any better or more interesting because of it. Maybe that was the creative team's way of getting a few more weeks’ worth out of the story, but it lacked the intensity and vitriol between the two that would have made the match at WrestleMania one of the more anticipated encounters on the card. I expect the main event at Extreme Rules to surpass their WrestleMania match and leave us all with anticipation heading into Raw next Monday night.
Your winner and still WWE World Heavyweight champion: Seth Rollins
So, there you have it. This is the one night of the year WWE goes extreme, but that’s more of a marketing ploy than actually being a comparable product to the company that inspired this event, ECW. But Extreme Rules seems to deliver on an annual basis and I don’t see this event being any different.
I’ll have a review of the pay-per-view up on Monday morning, so don’t miss it!