Wrestlemania 31, which has come and gone, appears to have been a bright spot in a sea of darkness. The WWE’s follow up pay-per-view, Extreme Rules, takes place on Sunday, April 26th, and I find myself feeling nothing but apathy.
Since Wrestlemania, not much has happened in WWE. I’ve watched most of the Monday Night Raw episodes post-Wrestlemania, but I have a difficult time telling you anything really notable that happened. A couple of people were called up from NXT, Brock Lesnar has been storyline “suspended” and John Cena’s been putting on entertaining matches for the US title. Daniel Bryan is injured, AJ Lee retired and Kane and The Big Show are your top heels. I won’t say that the WWE is completely in dire straits, there have been bits and pieces of the show I’ve liked, but for the most part sitting through 3 hours of Raw every Monday is a slog. There’s always a bit of a post-Mania slump that usually lasts until the summer. Feuds and storylines tend to spin their wheels and nothing of importance really takes place. I think I’ll be fine catching up on Raw through recaps, GIFs and YouTube clips for a little while.
With that said, we have a pay per view Sunday. I may be apathetic about the WWE right now, but pay per views are usually entertaining enough to throw on the TV for three hours on a Sunday night while I nurse a hangover (I don’t watch Game of Thrones). With Extreme Rules, every match will have some sort of gimmick to at least make things slightly more interesting. I’ll run through the card and share my thoughts and predictions.
Pre-show match: Kidd & Cesaro w/Natalya (c) vs. The New Day – Tag Team Match for the Tag Team Championship
Kidd and Cesaro are a great team. Tyson Kidd’s the smaller, more technical wrestler while Cesaro is the agile powerhouse. Together, their styles mesh well and they seem to work great with any other team thrown at them. The New Day have recently gained some comedic traction by subtly turning heel. Their shtick outright failed as babyfaces, and turning them against the crowd will work wonders for their act. This match should be fine and serve as a purpose to get The New Day over more as heels. Kidd and Cesaro retain, however.
Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper – Chicago Streetfight
I like both of these performers quite a bit. They’re both going to go out there and beat the hell out of each other for my amusement. Their feud isn’t anything too deep. Harper grossly put Ambrose through a ladder at Wrestlemania and prevented him from winning the Intercontinental title. Ambrose wants revenge. Pretty simple. This match will see kendo sticks, chairs, tables, ladders and hell, if we’re lucky, even a fire extinguisher. A fun hardcore match that will probably curtainjerk the show. Will Ambrose finally get a singles pay per view victory? I hope so.
Roman Reigns vs. The Big Show – Last Man Standing
The feud that never ends. Reigns was pinned by Seth Rollins at Wrestlemania and lost his championship match against Brock Lesnar. What was a great swerve and could have been a great development for Reigns actually turned back around and regressed into this. Reigns could have came out of that Wrestlemania match looking like a star who survived a match with Brock Lesnar. Instead, he’s back to getting clowned by The Big Show. The Big Show can cut a good promo, but his words are not what are selling this match to me. This pay per view takes place in Chicago, which has a well-known reputation of being a hardcore wrestling fan mecca. I fully expect the crowd to not care about this match one bit and chant for anything from CM Punk to The Brooklyn Brawler. The live crowd will be enough to make this match worth watching.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus – “Kiss Me Arse” Match
You read that right. The loser of this match has to literally kiss the winner’s ass. This is one of those times in wrestling that you’re outright embarrassed to be a fan and usually when your parents decide to walk in the room. Nobody besides 7 year olds and Vince McMahon find this funny, right? Sheamus came back the night after Wrestlemania looking like a World of Warcraft character and turned heel. Dolph and Sheamus have had decent matches in the past, so while the in-ring work will be fine, the post-match shenanigans will make me want to sink into a hole and never come back. Will Dolph come out successful with a win? Or does Sheamus get the win and some traction for becoming a top villain? Will Chicago hijack this match too? I hope so.
Nikki Bella (c) vs. Naomi – Diva’s Championship match
This match is all over the place. First, Paige won a battle royale on Raw for the right to face Nikki. Then, Naomi turns heel in order to write Paige out so she can leave to film a movie. However, The Bella Twins were already heels and are now forced to play babyface for this match. Got all that? I would hope the match is decent if it’s given enough time, but Nikki Bella playing the damsel in distress, the babyface in peril just doesn’t work for me. Could be a good time for a title change though.
Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Wade Barrett – Intercontinental Championship
Bryan’s had a storyline target on his back since winning the ladder match at Wrestlemania. Everyone’s come after him and his title, and unfortunately Bryan’s gone down with some type of injury since then. Rumors speculated that it was a concussion, but that claim was denied. He’s been kept off of Raw and Smackdown and has barely been on screen since Wrestlemania. Bryan’s status is still up in the air at the time of this writing and won’t be determined until the day of the show, Sunday. It’s an unfortunate circumstance, but Bryan not able to compete on Sunday would certainly not make the hostile Chicago crowd very happy. If the match does take place though, it will be interesting to see how he can perform shortly after getting banged up. Hopefully he won’t be stripped of the championship.
John Cena (c) vs. Rusev – Russian Chain Match for the United States Championship
Another feud that’s carried over from Wrestlemania. John Cena’s actually been fun to watch since winning the US title. He’s essentially working the midcard and is keeping out of the main event and upper midcard feuds and storylines. Each week on Raw, he has hosted an “open challenge” for his US title, where anyone in the locker room can earn an opportunity at his gold. This has led to some great matches with guys lower on the totem pole that we normally wouldn’t get to see shine like this. Rusev and Cena haven’t interacted very much since Wrestlemania though. Rusev wants his championship back and has resorted to a Russian chain match to get it. This match will see Cena and Rusev literally chained together, where the winner has to drag his opponent to all four corners of the ring in succession to get the win. Cena probably wins here, but then where does Rusev go from there? I can just picture Hulk Hogan doing this same match with the Iron Sheik 30 years ago.
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Randy Orton – Steel Cage Match for the WWE Championship with the RKO Banned and Kane as the ringside enforcer
Randy Orton pinned Seth Rollins at Wrestlemania a couple of hours before Seth walked out victorious in the main event. By wrestling logic, that entitles him to a championship match. Rollins has banned the RKO from Orton’s moveset while Orton opted for a steel cage match to keep out interference from Rollins’ lackeys, J&J Security. Obviously a cage with a door will prevent people from coming in. Kane has begun to have some issues with the Authority as well, so Triple H has allowed him to be ringside in order to maintain the peace. Whose side will he be on? Will he turn against the Authority and help Randy get the win? Or will he stay true to his employers and do what’s best for business? This is riveting stuff here, folks.
I wish this match could just get 20 minutes interrupted to really allow these guys to go all out and tear the house down. They could easily put on a 4 ½ star affair just by having the time, but since they’re part of the overall main event storyline, this match will be hilariously overbooked. Some shenanigans will go down and Seth walks out champion once again. I highly doubt they would take the belt off of him after a month. Should be interesting to see how they finish the match.
There you have it. I’m hoping this show turns out to be a B+ and not a C-. I’ll continue paying for the WWE Network, but if the WWE could put on one great show a month I would find my $9.99 worth every dollar.
by Nathan Dean Dimit