This Sunday WWE brings us Extreme Rules. It’s their annual pay-per-view of gimmick matches, booked whether feuds really require them or not. I’m against a couple of aspects of this show. I think using gimmick matches because of what a show has been named is detrimental to the match type, the wrestlers, and the show itself (you can read more of my thoughts on the subject here). I’m not a fan of the name either. It doesn’t sound like a pay-per-view name, it sounds like a subtitle. That’s because that’s exactly what it started as. I preferred Backlash as a name for WWE’s post-WrestleMania event as it would often feature rematches and fallout (the backlash, if you will) from ‘Mania. It made sense. Sadly, Vince McMahon prefers Extreme Rules.
At the moment there are six matches scheduled to take place (one of which will be announced on SmackDown so stop reading now if you don’t want any spoilers). I believe at least one more will be added, or a lengthy in-ring angle or promo will take place, to bulk the show up a bit because the current card won’t fill the typical amount of air time the company usually gives such shows. I’ll run through the announced matches and then suggest a few extras we could see added before show time.
Falls Count Anywhere – Cody Rhodes v Rey Mysterio
The fact that this feud still has legs having started in January shows how well it’s been received by both fans and the creative team. As I’ve said several times before it’s been good to see Cody get a push. With Rey moving to RAW this will be the feud ending bout, and as much as I’d like to see Cody go over I think Rey will get the win. Cody won on the bigger stage (WrestleMania) last month so it will be his turn to lay down here. There was also some sort of mask thievery teased by Cody on RAW, which makes me think Rey will need to be physically capable of fighting the heel off after the match concludes.
This match should really open the show as the rules mean they can go all over the building and get the crowd involved straight away. That’s how Paul Heyman used to book ECW and it worked out okay for him. It should be one of the best matches of the night and will hopefully keep Cody strong in defeat to set him up for his next feud (ideally against Daniel Bryan).
Prediction: Rey Mysterio
No Disqualification – Layla v Michelle McCool
I’m not really looking forward to this one very much. I think the two women worked better as a unit. Layla is a good wrestler but isn’t too good on the stick (though I suspect Cody Rhodes would disagree) while McCool is a very good talker but only average in the ring. They complemented one another well and won’t be as enjoyable as separate acts.
There’s an additional stipulation that the loser must leave SmackDown. Presumably that means they’ll end up on RAW. There’s been talk that Undertaker is going to be moved to RAW at some point so I think McCool (Undertaker’s real life wife) will lose here and resurface on RAW after a couple of months at home with ‘The Dead Man’. I’d be happy if that happened as I think Layla has more to offer SmackDown than McCool. It’s not going to be the best match of the show, but it could be decent if they’re given enough time. With the card looking light that could happen, and they could give us a good match.
World Heavyweight championship Ladder match – Christian v Alberto Del Rio
I think this has the potential to be the best match of the night. Both men are very good workers and elicit the right reactions from the crowd, while Christian’s experience in ladder matches should ensure some good spots are thrown in. The winner of this one is more about which show’s going to have the World title than anything else. If Del Rio gets it then it means both WWE’s world titles are on RAW, while if Christian has it the shows continue to have one each. If the rumours that the company is planning on unifying the world titles are true (they’ve been going on since last summer, so there’s probably something to them) then Del Rio winning the belt and eventually getting into a champion v champion match on RAW would be the most likely way of booking it.
I don’t think that’s going to happen though. Having two world titles benefits WWE far too much for them to want to get rid of one. Del Rio could win at Extreme Rules without it meaning a title unification is happening, but I think this could be the start of an experiment with Christian as a headliner. If it is then I hope he succeeds. He deserves a spot at the top and SmackDown as a show needs him there.
If Christian does leave with the belt then I think he’ll be in a program with Randy Orton for SummerSlam. They’re the brand’s two biggest stars and WWE is reportedly thinking about SummerSlam now, showing they’re serious about making it a big show this year.
Last Man Standing – Randy Orton v CM Punk
I’m a big fan of Punk, but this feud has dragged on too long. Their match at WrestleMania was good but aside from that nothing really memorable has happened. Punk’s given his regular strong promos, Orton has played the valiant babyface battling overwhelming odds, an actress pretending she’s married to Orton has watched agog as Punk stomped Orton’s head onto a concrete floor, and Orton’s kicked some lackeys in the head. The feud’s been going since the Royal Rumble and they’ve had one good match. I’m not blaming the workers, I’m blaming the writers for not playing to the men’s strengths and booking them to wrestle more often.
This should be another decent outing for the two, and with the Nexus having resurfaced on RAW they will probably make an appearance. This will most likely happen at the conclusion of the match, with the group doing something to prevent Orton from standing up without having been knocked out by Punk. Orton would be kept strong because it wasn’t a clean loss and Punk would get the win by cheating, keeping him over as a heel.
Prediction: CM Punk
Country Whipping match – Michael Cole and Jack Swagger v Jim Ross and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler
To quote JR, this match will be bowling shoe ugly. JR injured his hand on RAW by punching Cole so hard in the face that Cole’s tooth went through to the bone of his hand, limiting JR even more as a performer. With Michael Cole in there as well it doesn’t stand much hope of being a Match of the Year contender. That said Cole always gets a massive amount of heat so the fans will almost certainly be into it.
A few weeks ago there was talk of turning Swagger face by having him attack Cole. I think that would be for the best: Swagger shouldn’t be in his current role for much longer as he’ll end up looking weak. I imagine Lawler and Swagger will carry the majority of the match and JR and Cole will get more involved when it comes to the finish.
My prediction is JR and ‘King’ to win, setting up another berating of Swagger by Cole, which will lead to Swagger snapping and laying out Cole. There may be an Ankle Lock involved too. Having said all this, the WrestleMania match involving ‘King’ and Cole featured some of the most illogical booking ever, so just about anything could happen in this one.
Prediction: Jim Ross and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler
WWE championship Cage match – John Morrison v John Cena v The Miz (c)
This is the second Miz pay-per-view bout in a row in which a winner’s been hard to predict. WWE are apparently set on Cena and Del Rio clashing for a world title at SummerSlam, which would indicate that Cena will win a belt sometime in the next few months. But I also think they want to keep the belt on Miz for a lengthy title reign. He’s had it for five months now, which is not an insignificant amount of time in today’s WWE, but I’ve felt for a while now that they want to give him something more epic. That would mean having him retain in this match.
What about John Morrison? A lot of fans think he’s ready for the main event and want to see him as champion, but the key WWE decision makers disagree. I think he could progress to the championship sometime this year, but I don’t think it will be as soon as this Sunday (something I wrote about in greater detail at this link). More surprising things have happened in WWE before though, so it’s not impossible.
I’m going to predict Miz as the winner of this. If they want to have the belt on Cena for a summer feud with ADR they have months left to do it. Miz to win, with the feud continuing until at least Over the Limit on May 22nd.
Prediction: The Miz
Will there be another match added to the broadcast? A four-way bout between the Corre for Barrett’s Intercontinental title doesn’t strike me as impossible. Neither does anything involving Daniel Bryan, Sheamus or Mark Henry, because I expect all of those men to start being featured prominently on SmackDown.
It’s also worth noting that the Friday night brand currently has both the US and Intercontinental championships. That’s not something I imagine will go on much longer, so an inter-promotional match between either champion and a RAW star like Kofi Kingston or Evan Bourne in which SmackDown loses a belt could happen. Of those scenarios I think Kofi taking the US title from Sheamus is most likely, as Kofi got knocked out with a boot from Sheamus on this week’s SmackDown.
One final note: Chris Jericho has been eliminated from Dancing With The Stars and has implied through Twitter that he may make an appearance at Extreme Rules. I don’t think a comment on a social networking site is enough to say he’ll definitely be in Tampa on Sunday, but it is a possibility. If he does return I expect it will be as a face, and probably on RAW. We’ll see him cut a promo before a RAW heel comes out to interrupt and start a feud.
On the whole Extreme Rules strikes me as distinctly average on paper and I don’t think there’s enough potential to change my mind once it’s aired. Orton v Punk, Rhodes v Mysterio and the ladder match should all be watchable, but the women’s and commentators’ matches will drag the show down. There’ll be highlights, but nothing major. And there certainly won’t be anything “extreme”.