by Frank Lucci
Extreme Rules feels like the first proper Pay-Per-View for Raw after WrestleMania, as the previous Raw exclusive PPV, Payback, featured no mention of the Universal title nor did it have an Intercontinental title match. This PPV rectifies this somewhat, and it also has the advantage of not having a House of Horrors match thrown in as well (hopefully). Extreme Rules also does not have an NXT: TakeOver to compete with as well, or more specifically, WWE UK wrestlers to compete with.
Despite all these positives, there is most definitely an air of doubt surrounding this event, as Raw has continued to punish those brave enough to watch all three hours (I wonder what the crossover demographic numbers is for Raw fans and snuff films is). There is some decent action that could and should take place on this card, but if the matches are as painful as the buildup to them, the Spaceman may not be able to fight his allergy pill and watch Extreme Rules in segments. I’m Spaceman Frank and here are my Extreme Rules 2017 predictions.
Rich Swann and Sasha Banks vs. Alicia Fox and Noam Dar
This match is a positive in my book because it takes three people (plus Alicia Fox) and gives them something to do and a spotlight to showcase why they deserve to be on a higher level. Banks has lost all momentum since WrestleMania, and it seems like a distant fever dream when Swann was Cruiserweight champion. They will make a good team, and if this is what they need to do to get TV time and get over I am all for it.
Fox is a steady but unspectacular hand in the ring, but Dar deserves more of a spotlight. He is very young but one of my boys from before the CWC, so I am praying to the Cruiserweight Gods he gets more than this. Throw him in with Neville and TJP and form a power stable on 205 Live since there’s precious little room for heels on the show not affiliated with the King of the Cruiserweights. Based on popularity alone, I think Banks wins it for her team.
Neville (c) vs. Austin Aries (Submission Match for WWE Cruiserweight Championship)
These two have held down Raw PPV’s since ‘Mania, and once again I think this may be a bright spot on a lackluster card. The stipulation works well for both these men, but having Neville tap to Aries the week before this match was flat out stupid (WWE knows when this happens people expect the winner to lose on the PPV, right?).
I get the feeling the live crowds are starting to catch on that Cruiserweight matches are usually much more exciting than much of the filler on Raw, but again with the show so hard to watch that is like being proud that you hopped over a puddle on the sidewalk.
Aries deserves a run with the belt with all the excellent work he has done to make me forget what a natural heel he is, but Neville is just too good at being bad to drop it. Also again, he tapped out once already (WWE we get it, you have one play in the go-home show playbook. It does not work. We all know what a loss before the PPV means).
Alexa Bliss (c) v.s Bayley (Kendo Stick on a Pole Match for WWE Raw’s Women’s Championship)
Women climbing a pole to get at another pole, did Vince Russo write this?
What the heck has happened to two of my favorite women’s wrestlers??? Bliss was an all-star on SmackDown, and Bayley went from NXT’s John Cena (Joan Cena?) in NXT to a supreme doofus on Raw.
The only positive thing about this feud thus far is Bliss really whacking the hell out of her opponents with the kendo stick, but really it is time to retire the “on a pole” stipulation. Seeing people fart around one corner of the ring for a random object is dull, and it is time to think of something to replace it (I vote for a “Find the Kendo Stick in a Box Under the Ring Match” or a “Kendo Stick Tied to a Greased Pig Match.”). Anyway, Bliss wins because Bayley would not go nuts whacking her opponent with a foreign object due to her pure-hearted nature.
Dean Ambrose (c) vs. The Miz (Intercontinental Championship Match – Ambrose can lose the belt via disqualification )
Hey, kids! Do you know what’s more extreme than tables, ladders, and chairs? Rules!
No clue why of all PPVs, WWE pulls this type of match out at Extreme Rules. It fits the character of The Miz, but do we really expect Ambrose to be so stupid that he loses the belt this way? If anything, WWE should have had this be a no-DQ match where Dean clobbers the Miz, Miz complains that he would win in a regular match and makes this match happen at (sigh) Great Balls of Fire. I think Dean walks away with the belt because he is still a solid number two option as the champion to make up for the lack of a Universal champion on TV, plus both men need somebody new to set their sights on.
The Hardy Boyz (c) vs. Sheamus and Cesaro (WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Cage match)
Sheamus and Cesaro have a new fire under them now that they are heels, and their brutal dissection of the Hardys during and after their previous match has me invested in seeing what happens.
Will Jeff dive off the cage? Yes. Will he lose another tooth? Maybe. Will Cesaro swing the entire cage structure in a fit of dizzy rage? Probably. But the biggest question of all: Will Matt get broken? That question will haunt every Hardy feud until they actually pull the trigger (and they will), so while I will watch his PPV matches looking for any and all clues towards him going berserk, overall it does detract from the story being told in the ring.
I am curious what a heel Ces-mus (Sheamaro???) title run would look like, but I think the Hardys still can run up and down the country getting that nostalgia money for a few months more. Jeff throws himself off the cage to get the win.
Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Seth Rollins (Fatal Five-Way Extreme Rules Match for the Universal Championship Number One Contendership)
WWE has finally figured out that, if the Universal Champion cannot be bothered to show up at every PPV, then they should build around who gets the next crack at him. I like this match on paper, and seeing who gets their hands of Borkin’ Heck Lesnar next is far more exciting than anything else, especially with the five men selected. The big downside I have for this match is the rumors that whoever gets a shot at Brock at (sigh) Great Balls of Fire will be one and done since Braun Stroman will be back before SummerSlam. Here is my breakdown of who I think is going to win, from least likely to most likely:
5. Finn Balor – He has had the most hype, even having Paul Heyman put him over. WWE obviously sees money in this matchup, so to have him taken out by Brock and then passed over with little hype is in bad taste. I think this match will set up the Finn-Wyatt feud hinted at before rather than wasting a money matchup on (sigh) Great Balls of Fire.
4. Samoa Joe – Again, Joe vs. Brock is a money matchup and something not to be wasted as a holdover for Braun. These two behemoths squaring off is my biggest dream match of the current roster, and when Jim Cornette on Table for 3 suggested Joe vs. Brock in a submission match at the next WrestleMania, I flipped out. Make Joe look strong here and keep him there for when it is time for the monsters to be unleashed.
3. Bray Wyatt – The feud that almost happened could very well happen here, as Wyatt is WWE’s answer to every top star who needs a throwaway feud. But Jesus man, there is no way WWE can keep kicking Wyatt when he is down. He was WWE Champion earlier in the year before the Orton feud and House of Horrors debacle undid everything his big win did for him. He and Finn take each other out to set up their feud which will probably see Wyatt lose in the end.
2. Seth Rollins – One of two men to have a match with The Beast before saw their previous encounter act as a sideshow to Undertaker’s return. A plucky babyface Rollins vs. Brock is interesting, especially if he shows more fight than when he was the cowardly champ. I can see Rollins taking an absolute beating but refusing to die, rehabbing his image in the process. Yet, he has too much history with too many men in the ring to win. Therefore…
1. Roman Reigns – WWE will have their cake and eat it too. WWE wants Reigns to be a top guy, so they will drum Reigns in here to setup the WrestleMania 31 rematch we have not gotten yet. This will fulfill WWE management’s desire to give Roman a big push, while letting Brock have an opponent he can demolish before Braun takes over. WWE wins, the people win due to Reigns immediately being out of the spotlight after (sigh) Great Balls of Fire, and the other men in the match win by avoiding the big job to Brockjack Horsner. Then Strowman vs. Lesnar for the Universal championship can headline SummerSlam…unless Braun costs Brock the belt and they fight each other while Reigns carries the belt into SummerSlam…OH GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE???