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By Long Shot contributor Tim Simko
This Sunday, April 26 at 8 p.m. EST, WWE will be presenting their annual Extreme Rules Pay-Per-View event. The event is unique in the fact that it allows for a variety of “extreme” stipulations, effectively bending the rules of traditional matches in favor of more hardcore rules.
With the match card for the Pay-Per-View finalized and the event taking place this Sunday, I am going to break down each match on the card and provide my own predictions for the event.
First, the WWE Tag Team Champions Tyson Kidd and Cesaro will take on New Day members Kofi Kingston and Big E in the preshow of the event. This match was set this past Monday, as The New Day defeated the Lucha Dragons in a number one contender’s match to earn their title match at Extreme Rules.
What is unique about this match is that the two teams consist of villainous characters, better known in the wrestling world as heels. Despite their positive vibes, The New Day showed their villainous traits on RAW when they cheated in order to win the number one contender’s match. Another anomaly is the fact that while Tyson Kidd and Cesaro are also villains, the WWE crowd cheers for them.
Extreme Rules takes place in Rosemont, Illinois—just north west of Chicago. Any wrestling fan knows that Chicago is arguably the most passionate professional wrestling crowd in the United States. I fully expect Kidd and Cesaro to get a loud ovation, while The New Day will likely hear “New Day Sucks” chants that are even louder than they were on this past week’s episode of RAW.
The speed and power combinations of both teams will make for a very interesting match-up, and the match itself will be a great way to awaken the crowd. I see Kidd and Cesaro retaining their titles, with a future feud between them and the Lucha Dragons down the line.
The Daniel Bryan vs. Bad News Barrett match for the Intercontinental Championship has been up in the air the past few days, as WWE awaits the results of medical tests to find out if Bryan will be fit to compete. Since returning from a career-threatening injury in January at the Royal Rumble, there has been much concern concerning the health of Daniel Bryan. For now, it looks like the match is still going to take place Sunday.
If the match does indeed happen, I see Daniel Bryan retaining. Bad News Barrett is a talented wrestler, but his character hasn’t been developed well as of late. With Bryan bringing prominence to the Intercontinental Championship and restoring it to the prestige it once had, I can’t see him losing the title anytime soon. If Bryan can’t compete, then I see the match being postponed until a future episode of RAW or the next WWE Pay-Per-View, Payback.
Bryan’s medical issues are a source of concern, as he has gone on the record saying that his recovery from injury and surgery has been a long process. WWE will likely try to keep the title on him if they can, much like they kept the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on him a year ago when he was injured. However, if he is out of action for too long they may have to vacate the championship and crown a new champion. At the end of the day, Bryan has to do what is best for his health and we will have to simply wait and see to find out what happens.
Dolph Ziggler is facing Sheamus in a Kiss Me Arse match. With the brawling style of Sheamus and the athletic style of Ziggler colliding, I see an instant classic that will keep the fans on their feet. Of course, with Sheamus recently reinventing himself and WWE promoting him as a monster bent on destruction, he will dominate the contest. However, with Ziggler—who has been compared to a young Shawn Michaels as of late—we will likely see him get in some good offense and help create some moments that we will remember in the months ahead. Sheamus will win this one with a brogue kick, and fans will have to cringe at the sight of a down-and-out Ziggler being forced to kiss Sheamus’ buttocks.
Amid much speculation, it has been revealed on wwe.com that Naomi will take Paige’s place in the Divas Championship match this coming Sunday. With her recent villainous turn, it appears that WWE is trying to change the Bella Twins back into heroic characters overnight. When there’s no clear and defining change of heart conveyed on WWE television, it is always hard to decide if they are still the bad guys or if they are supposed to be the good guys now.
In the match with Nikki Bella defending her championship against Naomi, I see Naomi winning the championship. With AJ Lee retired and Paige “injured,” Naomi is the closest thing WWE has on the main roster to a top diva.
While I am not a fan of the current divas division, with top diva AJ Lee retired and her close second Paige out of action this is the perfect opportunity for Naomi to prove herself as a top contender. In recent months, Naomi was heavily featured with her real life husband and her real life brother-in-law The Usos, who are heroic characters. With her brother-in-law Jey out of action for six months with an injury, and her husband Jimmy Uso likely being kept off of TV until Jey returns, this is the perfect time for Naomi to separate herself from the pack and establish her own identity.
Luke Harper and Dean Ambrose will face off in a Chicago Street Fight. This rivalry began when they faced off in the seven-man Intercontinental Championship ladder match at Wrestlemania. On Smackdown one week later, Harper threw Ambrose through a table during their match leading to a no contest result. Over subsequent weeks, the men would attack each other, and would have another match leading to another no contest result. Because of this, it was announced that there would be no disqualifications and their match this Sunday would be a Chicago Street fight.
This match will be an all out brawl, and will likely steal the show at the Pay-Per-View. Both competitors have honed their crafts at various independent promotions before arriving to WWE, and have a hardcore fanbase. The Illinois crowd will be absolutely electric during this one. What makes this match exciting is that it can go either way. With WWE being a PG-rated program and chairshots to the head being banned since the Chris Benoit double-murder-suicide, don’t expect to see anything as grotesque as an old school ECW match. However, this match will feature some amazing maneuvers and innovative uses of various weapons. The crowd will be chanting “This Is Awesome” by the end of the match. I predict that Harper will win the match, as he begins to step out of the shadow of former mentor Bray Wyatt.
Roman Reigns will face Big Show in a Last Man Standing match. I can see this match getting many jeers from the crowd, as Reigns is not well-liked by the Chicago crowd despite being depicted as a hero character. In addition, this is a match that has taken place many times before but with a different stipulation. Reigns will win the match, and further his slow climb back into the championship picture.
John Cena has helped elevate the United States Championship since winning it from Rusev at Wrestlemania 31, creating a level of excitement when he defends his title in his weekly open invitational. Although we knew that he wouldn’t lose the title before this Pay-Per-View match, there was a certain level of excitement in watching the match and wondering “what if?” The Russian Chain Match between Cena and Rusev is an interesting concept, and I’m curious just how much the chain will play into the equation. They say that nothing is guaranteed in this world, but Cena is definitely going to retain in this match. Between him bringing some much-needed prestige back to the championship, the John Cena “The Champ is Here” T-shirts featuring the United States Championship and rumors that he is having a new title belt designed, it looks like Cena is going to hold onto his championship for a while.
The final match of the night will be the WWE World Heavyweight Championship cage match between Seth Rollins and Randy Orton, with Orton’s RKO finisher being banned and Kane being the “gatekeeper” of the cage. What makes this match interesting is that just one month ago, Orton beat Rollins in a one-on-one match at Wrestlemania 31. The key factor in this, however, is that Orton won that match at Wrestlemania using his RKO. With the RKO being banned, I am curious to see what kind of moves Orton can pull out of his repertoire. Will he break out moves from his former mentors? A figure four, perhaps? Will he use WWE COO Triple H’s own pedigree to put down his new protégé?
It is definitely a match that has to be watched. With rumors that Rollins curb stomp will only be used for special occasions, I am curious to see if Rollins will continue to use the DDT finisher he used on RAW, or perhaps the Phoenix splash that he used at the Royal Rumble a few months ago. I definitely see Rollins retaining in any circumstance, but I think Orton will have the last laugh with an RKO following the match.
WWE Extreme Rules takes place this Sunday, April 26 at 8 p.m. EST, and is available on Pay-Per-View and the WWE Network. For new subscribers, the WWE Network — including this Pay-Per-View event — is free for the remainder of April.