WWE moves back to the Raw brand on Sunday, when the Monday night warriors head to Baltimore for Extreme Rules. This show feels a little bit like Smackdown’s Backlash that took place a couple of weeks ago. It seems more like a placeholder than a show meant to stand on its own merits. Even with a Fatal Five-Way No. 1 Contender’s match on the card, it’s hard to see this as a milestone event. WWE Extreme Rules should function like Money in the Bank. You’re finding out who is going to get a shot at the title. For some reason, this Sunday’s event doesn’t feel that monumental. I’m more interested in what’s going on with Kurt Angle than I am in who will eventually face Brock Lesnar at Great Balls of Fire. (Sigh.)
The card is solid, so maybe I’ll change my mind after Sunday night. As usual, I’ll preview each match here, tell you what I think should happen, and offer my best guess as to what will actually happen. Reader beware – WWE storylines have been known to contain little to no logic.
WWE Extreme Rules Preview and Predictions
Kickoff Show – No matches have been officially announced as being Kickoff Show fodder, so I’ll predict that either Goldust vs. R Truth or Apollo Crews vs. Kalisto will draw the short straw. Neither of those matches has been announced either, but it is a prediction piece, after all.
Sasha Banks and Rich Swann vs. Alicia Fox and Noam Darr (Probably on the Kickoff Show – no stipulation announced) – It’s probably not a bad idea for WWE to try and raise interest in the Cruiserweight Division by having the “little guys” interact with stars from the main roster. It’s encouraging that Banks is over enough to be seen as someone who can do that. Unfortunately, The Boss hasn’t had much momentum on the main card lately, so the result might be watered down somewhat. What Should Happen: Banks and Swann should win the match, and Swann should be in the ring for the pin. Sasha can celebrate in the ring with him afterward. This is the only outcome that might increase interest in the Cruiserweights – though I doubt it will happen. What Will Probably Happen: Fox and Darr will cheat to win, and the feud will continue on 205 Live for a few weeks. Ultimately, this will die out as all feuds that contain Alicia Fox eventually do.
Neville vs. Austin Aries (WWE Cruiserweight Championship – Submission) – These are the two most relevant Cruiserweights on the roster. The feud has been going on since before WrestleMania, and this should be the match that ends it, otherwise WWE takes the risk of making it seem like only Neville and Aries matter. What Should Happen: This is a tough call for me. Part of me wants to see Aries finally take the gold, but that would extend the feud through the summer, which might ultimately be bad for the division. Another part of me wants to see Neville continue to be dominant. He can be a star-maker as a dominant heel champion. Aries doesn’t need help to be a star. What Will Probably Happen: For some reason, I feel like WWE doesn’t intend to keep Aries on 205 Live forever. I could easily see him show up on either Raw or Smackdown and become a threat to the top dogs. I think Neville wins, but with help from his minion, T.J. Perkins.
The Hardy Boyz vs. Sheamus and Cesaro (WWE Tag Team Championship – Steel Cage) – The Hardys have been a breath of fresh air in what was quickly becoming a stagnant division. Somehow, their vintage act feels fresh all over again. What Should Happen: The Hardys fly all over the place, and threaten to climb out of the cage about six times before finally succumbing to some nefarious tactics perpetrated by Sheamus and Cesaro. Matt goes all “Broken” on Monday night. What Will Probably Happen: I wouldn’t be surprised if WWE puts the belts on Sheamus and Cesaro, if only to provide the Hardys with credible contenders. Don’t expect to see Broken Matt or Brother Nero any time soon, though.
Miz vs. Dean Ambrose (WWE Intercontinental Championship – No Champion’s Advantage) – Over the past 18 months or so, Miz has been the best male heel in WWE. His promo work has been a fantastic blend of old-school Piper and truth-telling CM Punk. When he holds the Intercontinental belt, it seems more important. What Should Happen: By hook or by crook, Miz needs to take that title from Ambrose. As entertaining as The Lunatic Fringe can be, he just hasn’t elevated the belt the way that Miz can. With the Universal Championship frequently absent from Raw, Miz is the guy to make the IC title worthy of the main event week in and week out. What Will Probably Happen: WWE seems to be behind Miz, and I think he does take the belt here. Hopefully, he’ll hold it for a good long time, and feud with some big names on the way to SummerSlam.
Alexa Bliss vs. Bayley (Raw Women’s Championship – Kendo Stick on a Pole) – The “This is Your Life” segment on Raw was a disaster. No fault to Bliss for that, as she did as well as she could with what she was given. I suspect that somehow, Bayley will take the heat for that abomination, even though it’s clearly the fault of the writers. What Should Happen: Bliss is doing an outstanding job as the heel champion. There’s no reason to take the belt off her, and it’s time for a new feud, so Bliss should get the kendo stick and use it to send Bayley packing. What Will Probably Happen: Bliss is the best thing in the division right now, I don’t see WWE taking the belt away. The biggest question is who Bliss will face next. I suspect Nia Jax is looming.
Roman Reigns vs. Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe vs. Bray Wyatt (No. 1 Contender’s Fatal Five-Way – Extreme Rules) – With no Brock Lesnar or Braun Strowman to dominate the rest of the roster, WWE did a good job of making a match where anyone could legitimately win. Any of these five superstars could compete with The Beast Incarnate and produce a great match. What Should Happen: Reigns and Balor are the likely favorites here, and both will (and should) be at the top of the card for the foreseeable future. However, WWE should use the red-hot Balor to help get Reigns over as a monster heel. Have Balor be close to claiming the title shot when Reigns goes insane and ruins his chances. While all the commotion ensues, a surprise winner (either Wyatt or Rollins, probably) wins the match. I don’t think the winner of this match is going to beat Brock, so save Reigns, Joe or Balor for the main event at SummerSlam. What Will Probably Happen: Balor is smoking hot right now, and Reigns is a proven commodity in the main event scene. I think WWE will play it safe and have one of them win this match, thinking that either could take a loss at Great Balls of Fire without losing any heat. I think that’s the wrong approach. You want either Reigns or Balor to have massive momentum heading into SummerSlam if you’re going to dethrone Brock.
My past predictions have proven only semi-accurate, and I imagine this will be more of the same. As members of the WWE Universe, we can all take solace in one thing. Jinder Mahal will not emerge from Extreme Rules as the No. 1 contender to the Universal Championship.