This Sunday sees WWE return to pay-per-view with their annual Extreme Rules event, headlined by a rematch between AJ Styles and Roman Reigns for the WWE title.
We have seven matches booked for Sunday’s event, and here’s my takes on what I reckon will happen on the-show-that-used-to-be-One-Night-Stand…
Pre-Show – No-Disqualification: Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler
As much as I liked the idea of this feud, this somehow has managed to get the feeling of being done to death despite it only being in place for six weeks. Corbin losing last time out on the pre-show has taken any sheen off of his character, which seemed special in NXT if only because he rarely lost. WWE loves their 50-50 booking, and for that alone, I’m going for the directionless Baron. Prediction: Baron Corbin.
Tornado Match: The Usos vs. Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows
We’ve got the remaining members of “The Family” versus the guys who aren’t the Bullet Club, in a tornado match, which is traditionally an “everyone in the ring at the same time” match, so it’ll be chaos. As opposed to the other joke I could have made about a Texas Tornado match. This got thrown onto the card after SmackDown this week, so it’s not had much of a dedicated build, but I see the winner of this getting a shot at the tag titles in the weeks ahead… so with that in mind, I’m predicting plenty of weapons and madness… and “The Club” taking the win over an Usos team that have really fallen into the shadow of Roman Reigns. Prediction: Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows.
United States Championship: Kalisto (c) vs. Rusev
So we’ve gone from Ryback to Rusev on the pre-show, as Kalisto faces another behemoth of a challenger. Ever since he won a battle royal for the title shot, Rusev has been constantly flattening Kalisto, and I get the distinct impression that WWE’s getting bored of Kalisto and are looking to flip the switch on Rusev’s stop-start push once more. My head is telling me that while they’re probably going to switch the title, they’re not about to do it in their first match – so I’ll go for Kalisto to win by DQ and retain the title. Prediction: Kalisto.
Intercontinental Championship: The Miz (c) vs. Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro
The mixture of one decent and one good match at Payback, we’ve now got a fatal four-way here – and in my heart, I really want to see Sami Zayn get the title here, but I can also see them restarting the Kevin Owens feud here. Cesaro, for better or worse, seems to have been relegated to the background in all of this, and I can see him either sneaking the title, or the Miz retaining. Just because he’s the Miz and he’s now the defacto Intercontinental champion since Wade Barrett left, I’m going to go with him retaining. Prediction: The Miz.
WWE Tag Team Championship: The New Day (c) vs. The Vaudevillains
Expect a lot of replays of the Enzo Amore injury here, and possibly an appearance by Enzo and Cass. The Vaudevillains got their title shot here by default after Enzo’s concussion left us without a winner in the number one contender’s match at Payback. Since their call-up, the Vaudevillains have been really cold, which is no surprise seeing how the entire Vaudevillains gimmick sort-of needs an explanation (whereas, say, Enzo and Cass are a more obvious act). I don’t see WWE switching the titles here. Prediction: The New Day.
Women’s Championship: Charlotte (c) vs. Natalya
You’d be forgiven for being flat for this rematch, given that a) Charlotte beat Natalya at Roadblock just two months ago and b) she also beat Natalya at Payback three weeks ago, albeit via an extremely screwy rehash of Montreal. This time around, we’ve got the stipulation that Ric Flair is banned (and him showing up will result in Charlotte being stripped of the title). Interestingly, they’ve not even touched on the whole dodgy referee side of the story, which makes me think that’s going to be the angle this time… if only because WWE booking very rarely has a heel lose all of their advantages and then lose their title. For that alone, I’ll be picking Charlotte to retain. Prediction: Charlotte.
Asylum Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho
This seems to be steel cage match with weapons hanging above it, kind of like how TNA’s Lethal Lockdown works. The Ambrose/Jericho feud looked to have been one-and-done at Payback, but they’ve somehow revived it… and all over a talk show and a potted plant? At least it’s not a Japanese shampoo commercial. Given Ambrose’s recent history, I’m not expecting him to win, but the addition of weapons at least gives Jericho an out. There’s already a fairly high number of unpopular/heel wins on this card, so I’m going to go for Ambrose here. Prediction: Dean Ambrose.
WWE Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. AJ Styles
It’s an Extreme Rules match, so you know that means that the Usos and “the Club” are going to be running in at will. Their match at Payback was pretty good, save for the repeated McMahon-induced restarts. This time around, there’s not going to be any such shenanigans, but I don’t see this being the time where they call up Finn Balor and make the Club the Balor Club. We all know that WWE won’t have Reigns drop the title to AJ Styles, and by hook or by crook, Roman’s going to retain. Prediction: Roman Reigns.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ian Hamilton has been a wrestling fan since 1992, and when he’s not watching WWE, New Japan or his latest wrestling love, PROGRESS, he’s usually suffering through Sunderland AFC and the New York Jets. He’s got a couple of books out on Amazon – “Wrestling’s Sinking Ship” and “Gone Too Soon”, and can be reached via his website, BackBodyDrop.com, or on Twitter @theianhamilton