It’s that time of year again – the annual PPV that promises stipulations and unique spots from the ubiquitous wrestling promotion, and whilst this event usually falls into the lull between Wrestlemania and Summerslam, where everything sits in a precarious status quo, we’re facing unique circumstances this year. With the exception (in my opinion) of Backlash, WWE have put on some spectacular PPVs this year, particularly when they’ve chosen to embrace the empty arena style and go for cinematic matches. As of writing, we’ve got an 8-match card lined up for tonight, so let’s take a look at what’s to come, and what we could see.
This is an interesting match. The US title has been in a weird state of purgatory recently, with Andrade’s suspension coming in the midst of his reign, and the belt being booked simultaneously as a lower tier belt, and as RAW’s top accolade during Lesnar’s WWE Champ reign earlier this year, it needs something to get it going. Could that something be MVP’s effortless ‘cool’ factor, along with the new design of the belt? I really think it could be. MVP has slotted back into the WWE roster seamlessly, and his presence on RAW has acted as a solid anchor to several feuds. Making him champ gives the babyfaces of RAW a reason to step up, especially with McIntyre’s babyface run as WWE champ leaving others behind in favour of airtime for heels.
I really do think we’ll see MVP come out of this one on top, but if not, Apollo has been deserving of a push for a long time now, it’s great to finally see him get his chance to shine – and I hope he truly does.
I love both these wrestlers. Bayley is becoming an expert in her heel role, as sceptical as I was at first, and Nikki plays a babyface with a manic edge to perfection. I still hold out hope for her and Alexa to have a tag team heel turn because they’d both be just so good at it – but for now, let’s look at the match. Nikki and Bayley have clashed before for the Smackdown Women’s Championship, back in November 2019, and on that occasion Bayley retained. Booking-wise, it would make sense to flip that result now. Nikki has had nearly 9 months of growth as a wrestler, and I truly see her as championship material at this point. But there’s the temptation for WWE to hang all the gold on Boss n Hug, and Extreme Rules gives them the perfect opportunity to do so. It also helps that Bayley is an excellent wrestler, and has been proving herself in the ring and on the mic recently, which makes either result perfectly believable here.
I’m going to go with Bayley to retain, but only because I can still see that Bayley/Sasha feud glimmering in the distance.
Yeah, you read that right; eye for an eye. WWE are going to kayfabe blind one of their top starts on RAW. Whoever wins, we’re in for either a very entertaining match, or a cringe fest with some creepy CGI. Whilst the full rules for the stipulation haven’t been revealed yet, the exact wording WWE have used is; The match can only be won when one competitor extracts an eye of their opponent.
That’s gonna be beautifully gruesome to watch, and gives me echoes of the Attitude era of my youth. It probably helps that both Rey and Seth are in-ring masters, and very rarely disappoint (don’t mention HIAC 2019, don’t mention HIAC 2019… oops) when competing in this stipulation matches. It’ll be interesting to see Dominick’s role in this all this as well, and who’s going to actually triumph. This storyline has been well-booked so far, and left me guessing. I’m not going to call a winner here – I’m just going to say that we’re going to win by getting to watch this messed up match.
But if you push me, I’m gonna say Seth will win. Don’t think WWE would put an ex-SHIELD member in an eye patch so soon after Moxley’s stint in one on AEW.
So, we don’t know what’s going on with this one. Facebook ads for Extreme Rules have labelled it as a TLC match, but Ziggler has promised a stipulation that we’ve never seen before. My suspicion is that it’ll be linked to Drew’s Claymore – perhaps a TLC match, and if Drew hits a Claymore, he loses the belt. But I guess we’ll find out on tonight’s pre-show. What I do know is that this will likely be a great match. Drew’s title reign has been very strong so far, and Ziggler is a great in-ring performer, despite the weird writing he endures sometimes, and the cookie-cutter heel role he fills in various storylines.
Without knowing the stipulation, I can’t call a winner. Gut feeling is that Drew will retain and go on to face Randy Orton at Summerslam, but then… there’s this part of me that could see Ziggler winning – no, wait, hear me out!
So, let’s say Ziggler wins. Before his move to RAW (remember, RAW and SD share a creative team again now), he was feuding with Otis of Heavy Machinery; Mr Money in the Bank. Otis has been largely absent from WWE since early June, so hasn’t been set-up in any feuds since his feud against Ziggler. Otis cashing in on Dolph doesn’t seem out of the question in my mind, and if they’re going to burn Otis’ briefcase, why not do it at Extreme Rules as the build to Summerslam starts to roll in.
Push me on it, and I’m backing Drew all the way, but there’s the little gnawing thought of the MITB briefcase in the back of my mind that I can’t quite shake off.
Why do none of the women’s matches have stipulations this year? Sasha and Asuka are old-hands at this sort of thing – they could easily handle an Extreme Rules, no holds barred or similar stip. Hopefully this changes before the PPV tonight, as I’d love to see these two really really go at it.
So, at this point, I think Sasha deserves a win, right? She’s been back for almost a year, and challenged for the RAW title on several occasions, and lost out on each one. Yes, she’s won the tag belts, but let’s be honest – WWE don’t hold those in the highest regard. Plus, a singles title is always more prestigious these days. That’s not to say Asuka doesn’t deserve it – she’s unparalleled in my opinion, but I can just feel there’s a bigger, better story in Sasha ruling red and Bayley ruling blue, crossing over from brand to brand with the tag belts. It’s an Undisputed Era-esque ruling of the product, and with both Becky and Charlotte off TV, the Women’s Division will benefit from that anchorage in my eyes.
Sasha to win on this one.
I find it really hard to engage with the Smackdown tag titles because the challengers pool is so small that things seem to just go in circles (same for RAW to be quite honest, but this is a conversation for another time) so I applaud WWE for making the best of Sami Zayn’s artist society and making them a viable tag team. All four wrestlers in this contest are phenomenal in-ring performers, and this will be an entertaining match, but I don’t feel there’s much meat on the bones to discuss in advance of this. I can see the New Day losing, if only to regain at or before Summerslam, and because it makes Shin and Cesaro a viable element of the tag division. Unless Otis uses his briefcase here, and Heavy Machinery walk out with the titles. I can’t predict this one – it really could come down to the production teams’ whim on the night.
Wyatt’s been on fire for the last year and a half, with the Firefly Funhouse, Fiend, sweater Bray, and the storylines around him being compelling and enjoyable. His habit of flipping characters between face and heel, and the supernatural weirdness that surrounds him really works for me, and every time he’s on my TV, I’m a happy man. I think the prediction for this is easy – Bray’s going over. I just think this is building to the big Braun v Fiend match that we’ve not seen yet over the course of this feud – in fact, the Fiend has been noticeable in his absence, only being mentioned by Braun on Smackdown this week as the version of Bray that he ‘cannot let’ manifest. Bray’s going over, and the Universal Title will be on the line at Extreme Rules.
But that’s not really the interesting part of this match – that comes from the cinematic nature of the match. This is WWE’s second chance at the Wyatt House of Horrors match – a chance to take what they’ve learned in the PC era and apply it. This is going to be a standout match for fans of Bray, Braun, and cinematic wrestling in general. It may not be the best WRESTLING match on the card (don’t get me started on Backlash 2020’s tagline) but it could well be the most entertaining cinematic match so far this year.
All ways up, this is a very VERY strong card, particularly for an Extreme Rules PPV, and it’ll be interesting to see if there’s any upsets or surprises on the night. Join me on Twitter (@JamesHWrestles) where I’ll be live-tweeting the whole thing.