John: It is WWE Extreme Rules time. I remember last year’s event fondly. The top matches like John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar, CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho and Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan were all great while the undercard was just okay although Brodus Clay beating Dolph Ziggler in four minutes hurt my head (read my full review here). It was the best pay-per-view of 2012. If I ever made a list of best WWE PPVs ever it might be in the top 15 or 20. It was that good. This year? I don’t expect it to be as good. For one thing, the storylines heading into the show are just okay. Not are excellent. There’s also a lack of star power with no sign of CM Punk (out resting knee and arm injuries) and Dolph Ziggler missing in action due to a concussion. Those are two of the best performers in WWE. It’s hard to replace guys like that.
What we’re left with is a nine match card counting the pre-show match. Most WWE PPVs don’t advertise that many matches, so I give credit to WWE for actually using the six weeks of build to announce a full card. Why can’t they do that all the time? I don’t know.
This year’s Extreme Rules pay-per-view event is an average card. If the right matches get the most time then it could be great. If some matches that should be kept shorter are given too much time then it will hurt the show. Generally speaking, WWE does an excellent job of timing their pay-per-views. The in-ring action is usually above average too. My expectations aren’t too high or too low. They’re somewhere in the middle. Like I said, it has the makings of an average show.
Joining me for the preview are my good friends: TJRWrestling’s Andrew Johnson (our SmackDown guy) and Christian Michael (our Main Event guy). Let’s get to the preview.
(Note: All graphics are from WWE.com. The banner is courtesy of our friend Steve Melo.)
The Miz vs. Cody Rhodes (Pre-Show)
Christian: I applaud WWE for giving the fans at home a match for free to warm them up for the PPV. In reality it is just a four minute throwaway that gets in the way on them showing the same video package for the 17th time.
The Miz said on this past Wednesday’s Main Event that he’s tired of being in the pre-show and that he wants to be Champion again. He wants to be on the main card and in the main events. If that is just him blowing hot air to hype himself for his match, who knows but I hope it was WWE’s subtle way of letting us know that they plan on pushing The Miz again.
As for Cody Rhodes, he is one of the biggest wastes of talent in WWE right now. It would be nice if WWE did something, anything with him. All he seems to do is lose random matches. Both these guys deserve a better standing on the card than the pre-show. Prediction- The Miz
Andrew: The most must-see Pre-Show wrestler has returned to defeat my favorite wrestler in the most Extreme Pre-Show of the year. Thrilling (?).
I don’t have anything against this match on paper. Miz has actually gone from bumbling pro-wrestler with bouts of mediocrity to actual solid in-ring performer that can’t always figure out how the figure four works, and Cody Rhodes is just phenomenal all around so I’m sure it’ll be a good match. My only concern is how good can Cody look losing in the 5 minutes this match will get during a 30-minute pre-show?
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this Pre-Preview to the actual preview. Winner: The Miz
John: There’s not much in terms of build for this one. Maybe WWE can say that Miz is the most “must see pre-show wrestler ever” like they did before WrestleMania or whatever the hell they were trying to say there. Neither guy has much direction these days. They’re in the midcard not doing a whole lot. It would be nice if Rhodes had a bigger role. Miz will go over in a five minute match to get a babyface win to start the show. Winner: The Miz
Chris Jericho vs. Fandango
Christian: There was something special going on with Fandango the night after WrestleMania and then WWE turned him into just another guy with him having dance contests with The Great Khali and walking out on a match with R-Truth of all people.
This feud isn’t helped by the fact Jericho has missed some time after WrestleMania to be with Fozzy. I liked Fandango’s beatdown of Jericho from RAW this past Monday but if you go with the old, get beat on TV, win on the PPV rule then Jericho is in line for the win. Fandango needs it more and Jericho is the type of guy that’s happy to put on a good show and help younger talent, but I think WWE throws Y2J a bone here. Prediction- Chris Jericho
Andrew: It doesn’t make sense for Jericho to lose here logically in terms of story. Fandango won at Mania, has continued to 1 up him during pretty much every encounter, and this would be the point where Jericho drops the bullshit and takes back his dancer’s pride (if that’s a thing (I don’t think that’s a thing)).
However, Fandango has a kinda-catchphrase and baseball players “do the Fandango” so we can throw logic right out the window. Winner: Fandango
John: This feud has lost a lot of the momentum from where it began. This is one of the few matches on the card that is a WrestleMania rematch and it doesn’t have a stipulation. That’s weird. At least the stipulation doesn’t have to do with dancing. Jericho’s promo near the end of Raw was good when he said he was sick of the guy and just wanted to beat him. Why couldn’t they have done that instead of the terrible build that this feud had? It’s as if the creative team realized how awful the feud was and had Jericho improvise that promo.
If they get 10-15 minutes it could be an entertaining match. Fandango won at WrestleMania, so a Jericho win makes sense especially if it leads to a third match. If it was me booking I’d put Fandango over because as the newer character he should get the big win. However, I’m picking based on a WWE booking perspective and since I think there will be another match in the feud I’ll pick Jericho to get his win back here. If there’s a third match I’d pick Fandango to win that to end the feud. Winner: Chris Jericho
United States Title: Kofi Kingston vs. Dean Ambrose
Christian: It is interesting that Dean Ambrose is getting this title match because he pinned Kofi Kingston in a tag team match. It’s actually good logic to give a guy that pins a champion a future title match. If you use that logic Wade Barrett would have a long line of contenders including Sin Cara, R-Truth, Randy Orton, Sheamus, The Goon, Bastion Booger, Mantaur, The Stalker, Aldo Montoya, Billy Jack Haynes, Mike Sharpe and T.L. Hopper.
Jokes aside, I’m interested to see what Ambrose can do in a one-on-one PPV setting. We all know what Kofi Kingston is and what he’ll always be. Ambrose can’t suffer a loss here. I wouldn’t even want to see him get hit with Trouble in Paradise and then have the other members of The Shield run in causing the DQ. He needs to win and walk away with his first singles title in WWE. Prediction- Dean Ambrose wins the United States Championship
Andrew: Oh come on. Winner: Dean Ambrose
John: I’m a fan of both guys (Ambrose more than Kingston) and it’s a fresh matchup, so I’m looking forward to it. I’ve had a tough time deciding on this prediction. They have had six weeks between WrestleMania and Extreme Rules, yet this feud feels like it was thrown together within the last week. Shouldn’t they plan these feuds better? Of course they should. On the one hand I think it’s unlikely for Kingston to beat Ambrose clean just because I think Ambrose is booked strong and Kingston isn’t a big enough name to go over him. It may be too soon to get the title off Kingston since he’s had some great matches since he’s been the champion and keeping that momentum going could be a good thing.
I think the most likely finishes are Kingston retaining via disqualification (due to other Shield members) or Ambrose gets the title. Since I don’t like predicting DQ finishes very often, I’ll pick Ambrose. A screwy finish wouldn’t surprise me because I think it’s a bit too soon to get the title off of Kingston. Then again maybe he is just a transitional champion between Cesaro and Ambrose. There are so many ways they can go with this one. Winner: Dean Ambrose
Tag Team Championship: Team Hell No (Kane & Daniel Bryan) vs. The Shield’s Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins (Tag Team Tornado Match)
Christian: This match should tell you all you need to know about who WWE thinks is the star of The Shield. It’s Ambrose. He’s getting the singles title match while Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns are in the Tag Team Championship Match.
This match has been expected for months now and we are finally going to see if The Shield can grab the Tag Team Championships. I like that they made the match a Tornado Rules match because it fits the chaotic nature of The Shield and Kane will fit in nicely in that environment. Daniel Bryan is just awesome so he can wrestle in any kind of match and be good.
Team Hell No has been the Tag Team Champions since Night of Champions back in September. They’ve had a great run and made the Tag Team Titles matter again. It’s time to get the belts off them. Daniel Bryan needs to be a singles wrestler where he can really shine. The Shield needs the belts more. All three members should hold gold at the end of the night. Prediction- Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins win the Tag Team Championships
Andrew: First off, making it a tornado match is awesome. It’s like every WCW Revenge tag team title match I ever had. If this match goes completely the wrong way and Team Hell No win by stomping the Shield effortlessly than at least I can say “Hey, what do you expect, they had it set to hard.”
Obviously the Shield should win here, but it’s not like it matters. Who will they defend against? Tons of Funk? Three Man Band? Khali and Hornswoggle?
The tag team division is that turd stain on the toilet bowl that won’t go away, no matter how many times you pee directly on it. It’s time we just get out the cleaning gear and wipe it out for good. Winners: The Shield
John: It’s time to do the tag title change. I’ve been predicted it for a while now, but now that The Shield are positioned as the top contenders it’s time to put some gold on them. Even though I think that Kane & Bryan holding the tag titles since September has been a great thing for the tag titles, it’s time to move on. Mainly I want to see Bryan pushed as a singles babyface star. Getting the tag titles puts over The Shield as a great team and it also opens that door for Bryan to ascend as a performer. He’s too good to be in the tag division for much longer.
This could be one of the better matches on the show. I’m a fan of tornado tag matches where all four guys can wrestle at the same time. They have built up some chemistry too, so I’m looking forward to this one a lot. Hopefully it gets 15 minutes of in-ring time, but I think ten minutes is more likely. Winners: Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins
Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger (I Quit Match)
Christian: On paper this PPV has the potential to be good with some different matchups on it. Then Jack Swagger had to go and kick Dolph Ziggler in the face. Ziggler can’t wrestle and what would have probably been an awesome Triple Threat Ladder Match is now an I Quit Match between Swagger and Alberto Del Rio.
I was hoping that this feud was going to be over after WrestleMania. Their match failed and no one cared about the feud. Then WWE kept feeding us these two in singles matches and they surprisingly got better. The match should be pretty good. I’m surprised it is not just a Submission Match given they both use submissions as finishers. The I Quit stipulation should make it a bit more physical which will make the match better as their best match together was a No Disqualification Match. I think Del Rio wins just because he’s a babyface and a better challenger for Ziggler. Prediction- Alberto Del Rio
Andrew: Just… ugh.
I don’t want to see this match. I don’t. I’m sorry, I’m sure once they’re in the ring it’ll be a good bout, but going into it I’m just thinking “UUUUUUUGH”. I don’t know why either. I love Del Rio, I really dig Swagger’s character, Zeb is inspired, and I love (LOVE) Ricardo. Part of the problem is that I mildly tolerate I Quit matches. They’re not easy to pull off and make both guys look good, so someone (Swagger) is going to look like the chump (Swagger) but crying out words that instantly bring shame and ridicule to wrestling audiences, because I guess when you pay for a WWE ticket your brain instantly reverts back to that of a caveman.
So it’s whatever, I don’t really care. Hope getting kicked so hard you forgot your social security number was worth it, DOLPH. Winner: Alberto Del Rio
John: It’s a shame that Dolph Ziggler has a concussion because I was really looking forward to the three way ladder match for the World Title. I thought it was going to be the match of the night. Now that Ziggler is out they’ve replaced it with this “I Quit” match, which is a #1 Contender match even though there are two other midcard matches on the show that seem like a bigger deal (Orton/Show and Sheamus/Henry).
The “I Quit” stipulation works for them because of their submission holds. Their SmackDown match about a month ago was better than WrestleMania, so hopefully this match is more the SmackDown match was. I think Del Rio will win because he’s the babyface that makes more sense as an opponent of Ziggler. With that said, I don’t know if they’ll do Ziggler vs. Del Rio at the next PPV, Payback. I can see them setting up a feud with Ziggler and Orton in the near future. Winner: Alberto Del Rio
Sheamus vs. Mark Henry (Strap Match)
Christian: I don’t mind these two matching up but I’m not a fan of them doing so in a Strap Match. Normally Strap Matches can turn very brutal and bloody. WWE isn’t going to go that route since blood is banned and they’ll have other matches on the card that will feature more physicality. They’ll probably just use the strap to play tug of war and see who is stronger since that’s what this feud is really based upon, each man’s strength. Henry probably wins in a fluky way and Sheamus lays him out with a Brogue Kick because that’s what he does. Prediction- Mark Henry
Look, let’s just cut through the bullshit; you all know me pretty well at this point and know my affinity for both Mark Henry and HOSS FIGHTS. Throw in the gimmick of a leather strap into the mix, and what does that make me? THE HAPPIEST PERSON ALIVE.
I don’t expect Henry to win here, because he’s been the heroic record breaking bad ass over the past couple of weeks while Sheamus has been the petulant child kicking over sand castles and calling the big kids fat. Since genuine assholes always coming out on top (see Cena, Triple H, The Rock, Randy Orton) over well rounded characters with interesting flaws is kind of WWE’s thing, I don’t expect Henry to walk out of this with the W. Be a star indeed. Winner: Sheamus
John: I’ve liked the feud. I don’t really like the Strap Match stipulation, though. It limits what you can do in the match. Basically there will be a lot of whipping with the strap without much else. They can use weapons technically, but with so many other matches with weapons likely to be used I doubt they use anything other than a ladder. I’m a fan of Mark Henry’s work since he returned, so I hope he goes over here. I don’t think a loss hurts either guy that much. I’ll pick Henry because I think he’s a future PPV opponent of John Cena and a win here would certainly help. It’s rare for Sheamus to lose, though, so I’m not that sure about this one. Winner: Mark Henry
Randy Orton vs. Big Show (Extreme Rules Match)
Christian: It used to be so easy to predict a Randy Orton match: he wins. Now you just don’t know. He has lost a lot over the last year. Whether Randy wins or not would be a good indication as to whether or not he’ll be getting a push soon. A win and I can see him being built back up to possibly challenge Ziggler at SummerSlam. A loss and he’ll probably continue to do what he has been doing, which is nothing.
This match has been brewing since WrestleMania when The Big Show knocked out Orton. I’m glad that they made this an Extreme Rules Match as a regular match with these two would probably be pretty boring. At least now they can use weapons and stuff like that to make it entertaining. I think Orton wins with some sort of cool RKO variation. It would be nice to see him groomed for a summer long feud with Ziggler. That would be pretty damn good. Prediction- Randy Orton
Andrew: I’ve never cared about Randy Orton less than I have at this moment. He’s stuck in this terrible hole that most babyfaces with nothing better to do but are too important to be jobbing to up-and-comers who need it (coughWadeBarrettcoughAntonioCesarocough) so he’s treading water with Big Show until something better comes along.
Do you remember how in the GM mode of Smackdown vs. Raw games you’d be building your card, and you’d have all these great matches you wanted but you’d have just one extra space, so you’d fill it with two wrestlers with high rankings just to up your show’s popularity, so you’d have like Undertaker vs. Goldberg for no reason at all? That’s what this feels like. Winner: Randy Orton
John: It feels like a matchup that is filler in a lot of ways. Why? Because they haven’t done anything to really create interest in the storyline. Show cost Orton a match at WrestleMania, but it’s not like that WrestleMania match was memorable anyway. It was just a regular match. Here we are six weeks later and they have done little to add to the story. Orton’s mannerisms are the same. Show is still the dominating heel. I’m not sure if Orton’s long rumored heel turn is even a plan at this point. Whether it’s a plan or not I have Orton winning this match. It makes more sense to me. Winner: Randy Orton
Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar (Steel Cage Match)
Christian: Brock Lesnar has had four matches in his time back with WWE and three of them have been against Triple H. That’s not exactly the best way to use the man. SummerSlam should have been their one and only match. It didn’t blow anyone away. Neither did the one at WrestleMania, even though it should have. Some guys just don’t mesh well together. That’s what it seems like here.
The Cage Match stipulation gives Lesnar the advantage because of his time in UFC. I’d like to see Triple H fight valiantly for about ten minutes and then Lesnar just eat him for lunch for the last five minutes and win in dominating fashion. We probably won’t see Lesnar again until SummerSlam but at least this feud will finally be put to bed. Prediction- Brock Lesnar
Winner: Brock Lesnar
John: It’s the feud that didn’t really need a second match yet here we are with the third match. If Lesnar loses this match then WWE really has their priorities screwed up. I realize that Lesnar is on a limited schedule, but it’s not like Triple H is wrestling all the time either. You can’t keep booking Lesnar as this devastating heel monster if he loses matches (he’s 1-2 since he came back last year). It’s pretty simple: give Lesnar the win. I think the Steel Cage setting should allow them to have a physical style of match with some good drama including nearfalls as well as each guy trying to escape the cage. The best way for Lesnar to win is in a clean fashion. I hope that’s what happens.
This might be the longest match on the card just because their previous two matches went 19 minutes (Summerslam) and 24 minutes (WrestleMania 29). It’s a Triple H match. His matches always go long. It’s not like he’s going to book a match where he loses in ten minutes. That would be wonderful for Lesnar, but I doubt that happens. Hunter’s one of the strongest performers in the company even as an aging part-timer. A decisive Lesnar win in 12 minutes is what I would do. But I’m not booking. I think Lesnar will still win, but it will not be as decisive as it should be. Winner: Brock Lesnar
WWE Championship: John Cena vs. Ryback (Last Man Standing Match)
Christian: I think I’ve made it perfectly clear that I think Ryback has been booked horribly and I don’t like him as a heel at all. To me, it’s the height of stupidity to turn him just so Cena can add another monster to his resume. All I see is another PPV loss for Ryback and whatever was special about him completely gone.
Like with the Show/Orton match, adding a stipulation here is smart. It will allow the match to be better since the two can brawl and not have to wrestle. The reason for the feud makes sense. Cena never came to the aid of Ryback while Ryback was always there for Cena. That makes Ryback the bad guy though and somehow he went from badass to bitch. More horrendous booking. The key here is how they’ll beat Ryback. Alberto Del Rio beat The Big Show in two Last Man Standing matches by burying him under a bunch of crap and then duct taping Show to the ropes. They were both good finishes in the sense that it kept Show looking strong despite losing. Cena was the originator of the duct finish when he used it against Batista in their Last Man Standing Match back at this event in 2010. They can’t go back to it again and they can’t just have Cena beat the hell out of Ryback. A decisive loss here for Ryback and they might as well release him. I know that may be extreme (see what I did there) but it is going to take a lot for WWE to make him a credible threat to anyone.
I know they’ve made Cena vulnerable with the ankle injury but let’s be real, this is Cena. He’ll get destroyed for 12-15 minutes, run through his comeback and win. He’s overcome the odds again. Yawn. Prediction- John Cena retains the WWE Championship
Andrew: Oh God, this whole thing.
Look, in my opinion, Ryback is done for. Actually, I thought he was done for back in September when he was being punked out by Punk, but it’s never been more apparent than now. Heel Ryback isn’t working, and the crowd isn’t really buying it. I don’t know why everyone that goes against Cena is instantly considered a villainous coward, but it’s obnoxious. Ryback isn’t really doing anything that a smart, fully present observer wouldn’t do. But, because he’s doing it against Cena, he’s “acting like a coward” and it’s complete bullshit nonsense.
I genuinely like John Cena as a person and a wrestler, but good lord he’s hard to get behind as a character. I wouldn’t be surprised if the match was changed on the fly to a “Everyone vs Cena” match with Cena being cut down to no arms and legs like the Black Knight, and STILL AA “Everyone” into a shallow grave. Winner: John Cena
John: There are some people out there that have been messaging me for weeks saying that due to Cena’s foot injury he should lose the WWE Title to Ryback. I don’t agree. Are you forgetting about the nearly two year journey that Cena was on to win back the WWE Title? I really don’t think he’s going to lose the WWE Title in his first PPV title defense. This is John Cena. He doesn’t lose very often, especially one month into a title reign. I guess it’s a positive that people even think Ryback has a chance. I don’t see him winning, though. Maybe if they do another PPV match, but even then I doubt it.
The feud has been okay, but I worry about this match in terms of quality. I don’t know if they have good chemistry. Obviously they’ve been working on house shows a lot in the past month as a practice run for this match. I saw Ryback have longer matches with great workers like Daniel Bryan and Chris Jericho in the last month. They were fine. Not great, though. Against Cena? I have my worries.
The Last Man Standing match is a good stipulation because they can use weapons and have a brawl. The problem is we saw two LMS matches with Del Rio and Big Show already this year, so it doesn’t seem that fresh of a stipulation. Ultimately, I think Cena wins after 15 minutes of taking punishment and looking like a badass by coming back to win the match despite his foot injury. Winner: John Cena
John: I hope you enjoyed the preview. I know that Andrew didn’t write a lot for a couple of matches, but that’s his way of saying he lacks interest in them and I don’t blame him for it. It’s not like this is the best card of the year. Like I said in the open it won’t be the worst show either. It looks like an average show in a lot of ways. Could it be great? Yes. I think it’s unlikely, though.
That’s all for us. I’ll be writing about WWE Extreme Rules live on Sunday night only at TJRWrestling.com starting at around 7:30pmET with the pre-show. I’ll post it at other sites later, but it will only be live on TJR.
On behalf of Andrew and Christian, thanks for reading.
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