Breaking down WWE’s Extreme Rules
BY BRETT MURDOCK (AND MATT VINSKO), Couchsideshow.com blogger
As the first pay-per-view event post-WrestleMania, Extreme Rules has the unfavorable task of putting on a quality show after professional wrestling’s biggest extravaganza. Last year, it was actually able to step up to the plate and it was the best PPV event of the year, in my opinion. That’s not just a “wrestling hipster” opinion to go against the mainstream calling ‘Mania the top show of 2012, I legitimately believed it.
This year, the potential to rise above WrestleMania is once again there, especially after a predictable and lackluster (because of the hype) Show of Shows. While many fans see a card that is lacking, I see a line-up with a lot of capability and the chance to do something memorable. In total, there are nine scheduled match-up and all but two of them will employ an “extreme” stipulation, hence the show’s title. Now, along with my co-conspirator Matt Vinsko (making predictions at the willy-nilly like I did on his NBA first-round playoffs piece), let’s get ready to get extreeeeeeeme…
Pre-Show: The Miz vs. Cody Rhodes
Honestly, I have no idea where this match came from. For the past couple of years, The Miz and Cody Rhodes have been two of WWE’s best midcard guys but unfortunately, they have been brick walled by an inability to develop solid feuds for them in singles action. The Miz has had his chances with both the Intercontinental and United States Championships, but failed to make an impact with the belts. Rhodes was part of a great tag team with Damien Sandow but for some reason, the creative staff broke them up to focus them on singles competition. Meanwhile, getting back to present day, these two are probably just there to get the crowd warmed up for the night’s events and to bring at least a shred of credibility to the pre-show. With that being said, the preshow is usually for the fans and the WWE “knows” that fans like the faces, so congrats Miz.
BRETT: The Miz
MATT: The Miz
Fandango vs. Chris Jericho
The only match on the main card to not have a stipulation, this is a rematch from WrestleMania, in which Fandango scored the upset victory over Jericho in his WWE television debut. Following that, a worldwide sensation was born when fans began “Fandangoing” (dancing to his catchy entrance music), a trend that spread across the globe and became viral, courtesy of the crowd at the first Monday Night RAW after ‘Mania. Meanwhile, Jericho is still upset at his loss to the unproven and still very unknown Fandango, but that is all part of the script. Jericho is known for helping guys get over, especially younger talents, and I see no reason why that shouldn’t continue. I feel this will be a more even match than their first one (which Jericho dominated until a costly misstep) simply because of the fact that the company will probably allow Fandango to get more over with the fan base. As it is, Jericho is an older talent that will probably retire from wrestling completely in the next couple of years while Fandango is a future staple in WWE.
MATT: Chris Jericho
Randy Orton vs. Big Show in an Extreme Rules match
Another feud extending past WrestleMania, these two were actually teammates (along with Sheamus) against The Shield, but lost after Orton was pinned. Big Show then took out his frustrations by delivering a knockout blow to Orton, setting the stage for this match. Now in my book, Extreme Rules matches are normally saved for the bigger matches like ones involving the main championships, but it seems this one was put in place to make it more “even” for Orton, who is facing a seven-foot, 440-pound individual. However, giving Big Show the advantage to use all sorts of weapons, strategies, and physicality could be deadly. But, we must remember where this event is taking place — St. Louis, MO — which is Orton’s hometown. I don’t think the WWE would let one of their golden boys lose in a match in his domain.
BRETT: Randy Orton
MATT: Big Show
Sheamus vs. Mark Henry in a Strap Match
What, you’ve never heard of a strap match before? Pretty simple explanation really. Both competitors are bound together by a strap and then to win, you have to touch all four ring corners in succession without being stopped. Personally, I haven’t seen one since JBL vs. Eddie Guerrero back in 2004, but that was pretty entertaining. Back here in present time, Sheamus and Henry are two bruising guys who don’t need to get technical to win matches, and this match will show that. Be prepared for a lot of powerhouse moves and just straight slugging at one another. However, Henry is all about power because that’s what he does while Sheamus has been beatable the past few months. I think Henry takes advantage of that and walks out the winner.
BRETT: Mark Henry
Team Hell No (champs) vs. The Shield’s Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins in a Tornado Tag Team Match for the WWE Tag Team Championships
Finally, The Shield will have their opportunity to claim gold in the WWE when they square off with familiar opponents Kane and Daniel Bryan, Team Hell No. These two teams have been feuding since December and each time, The Shield has prevailed. Granted, The Shield generally had their third member around, but we’ll get to him later. This match should be entertaining as can be with two technical guys in Bryan and Rollins while having two powerhouse wrestlers in Kane and Reigns providing a solid mesh of styles and moves, which the crowd will surely appreciate. And for those that don’t know what a tornado tag match is, it’s when all four competitors are allowed in the ring at the same time instead of the traditional one in and one out type of tag match. In the end, the WWE has been pushing The Shield for a while now, having them win their big matches at every turn and making them look like bona fide superstars and threats. That should continue Sunday, when they take the belts off Team Hell No and end their eight-month reign as tag champs.
BRETT: Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins
MATT: Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins
Kofi Kingston (champ) vs. The Shield’s Dean Ambrose for the United States Championship
Like I said earlier, I told you we would get to Dean Ambrose later and now we have as he also gets his first shot at championship glory. This feud was sparked a few weeks ago when Kingston (along with teammates the Usos) squared off against The Shield in a six-man tag bout, which The Shield won. Then, a couple of run-ins here and there and we now have a championship match. Kingston is usually the WWE’s transitional champ, seemingly winning midcard titles only to hand them off sooner than he would like to a better talent, and that seems to be the case here. That isn’t to say Kingston is a bad worker because he’s not but Ambrose is just in a better position right now. He gets the victory and it becomes a banner night for The Shield as they all walk out with gold.
BRETT: Dean Ambrose
MATT: Dean Ambrose
Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger in an “I Quit” Match to determine the No. 1 Contender for the World Heavyweight Championship
Because of World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler suffering a concussion on a SmackDown a couple of weeks ago, the WWE had to scramble to figure out their game plan for these two. Originally, this match was scheduled as a triple threat ladder match with Ziggler, Del Rio, and Swagger for the World Title, a match which had fans salivating. But, Ziggler’s legitimate concussion threw that into wack and we now have an “I Quit” match. The object of this match is to beat your opponent so badly that he’s forced to embarrassingly say those two words into a microphone for all the viewing audience to hear. Now, I believe that because of this sudden change of plans, that they’re could be a stalemate somehow to make sure that triple threat match goes ahead at the next PPV, but I don’t think the WWE is clever enough to pull that off. So I think they take the face route of this own and elect to go with Del Rio as the winner to set-up a Del Rio/Ziggler title match at the next PPV. Those two have put on quality matches in the past and I think the WWE sees something there. As for the match itself, I think it can be quality entertainment and could give the crowd some good bang for their buck.
BRETT: Alberto Del Rio
MATT: Alberto Del Rio
Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H in a Steel Cage Match
Well, here we are once again. Lesnar vs. The Game in a hotheaded, extreme collision at a PPV. Lesnar got the first victory at last year’s SummerSlam, then HHH got his revenge at ‘Mania and now these two are out to settle the score in the rubber match. There’s no bones about it: these two just don’t like each other (on screen, and quite possibly in real life too, because of Lesnar’s personality). Now, they will meet inside a steel cage to brutalize and maim each other in an attempt to see who’s the true beast of this business. Now, I know I was wrong when I predicted Lesnar to win at ‘Mania even when all wrestling logic was contrary, but now I’m certain I’ll be right this time. Brock Lesnar, the Beast Incarnate, will be victorious. Triple H got his ego boosted up with his WrestleMania win but now it’s time to put the wrestler aside and put the businessman persona forward and realize that if you keep having your beast lose, it won’t be good for business. I like the tone this match should set and putting these two behemoth’s inside a cage can do wonders for entertainment, especially with Lesnar’s MMA past and HHH’s history inside the steel cage. But, the pain is coming…for Triple H.
BRETT: Brock Lesnar
MATT: Brock Lesnar
Ryback vs. John Cena (champ) in a Last Man Standing Match for the WWE Championship
Oh dear. Here we go. Even after adding that Last Man Standing stipulation, I can’t really bring myself to get excited for this match. Even after Ryback’s heel turn to set up this match, I don’t even want see Ryback win the title even though it is currently on WWE’s golden boy Cena. Hell, this match is even more predictable than WrestleMania was, and that’s saying something. Why would you take the title off your franchise superstar a mere month after he won it off one of the greatest of all-time only to put it on a guy who nobody really likes at this point in his career? Hell, a Last Man Standing match is supposed to test a wrestler’s tolerance for pain and his endurance. Ryback may have the former but he definitely doesn’t have the latter yet, and that has been proven. Truth be told, because of the extreme predictability of this match, I won’t talk a lot about it. It’s simply an easy way for the writers to keep the title on Cena for the next few months until a true challenger emerges.
BRETT: John Cena
MATT: John Cena