5.20.2016

Predicting WWE Extreme Rules 2016

Photo Courtesy WWE.com
Hey, I haven't done one of these in a while, but at WrestleMania 32 (which for my money was one of the most spectacular things I've ever seen) WWE began firing on most if not all cylinders and despite a mere 3-week build here I'm pumped up for another edition of Extreme Rules. So here we go!

Photo Courtesy WWE.com
Unbooked Matches
WWE loves to throw out unannounced matches to buffer and/or pad these special events, and I will not be surprised to see one or two during Extreme Rules.
Perhaps the most exciting WWE happening for me right now is the recent main roster debut of Dana Brooke. I have a thing for wrestlers whom I initially despise but grow to respect as they win me over with their dedication to self-improvement, and Dana has come a long way since first appearing on NXT. My fan love affair with her began with a hate-absorbing response to a sarcastic tweet I sent suggesting she'd soon win me over if she kept getting better the way she was, and it's only grown. For various potentially beneficial reasons I was even open to the idea of her re-teaming with Emma, another wrestler I've been more or less infatuated with in recent months (her bout with Asuka at NXT TakeOver: London is my personal 2015 Match of the Year). On one hand of course it's severely unfortunate Emma suffered a ruptured disc and is out indefinitely recovering from successful surgery, while on the other this does thrust Dana in to the spotlight that much more. Thus far, she is thriving.
At Extreme Rules, Dana could find herself opposite Becky Lynch once more. In my opinion, Becky (another wrestler I'm basically head over heels for, go figure) should hand Dana her first main roster loss, leading to the continuation of their feud.
I might say Colón brothers and apparent repackage specialists Primo & Epico will show up on the Kickoff Show to treat us to their new so-far-so-good, let's-give-it-a-chance, elitist-tour-guide-ish Shining Stars gimmick, though this seems more likely to stick to Raw and SmackDown for the time being. In that tag match's stead we could get a reprise of Golden Truth against FaBreeze (which compared to "Breezango" is a much, much better - though admittedly still bad - team name). I do wish the amazing talent and brilliant gimmick of Tyler Breeze was not being raked through the comedic muck of this never-ending Golden Truth angle, but at least the ordeal has provided some amusement here and there. I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy weaker bits during the Attitude Era (Moppy, anyone?).
Who would win this free TV-worthy matchup? Let's just say Goldust and R-Truth get the pinfall, attribute their victory to aligning their chakras, then treat us to 5 months of vignettes featuring bizarre DDP Yoga pratfalls.

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Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler - No Disqualification Match
One of my favorite aspects of WWE right now is that the roster is loaded with talent I am genuinely excited to see perform every week. Baron Corbin leapt on to my radar at a house show, as he cut a scathing promo of quality I didn't previously believe him capable of. He's only improved since, and his condescending, apathetic attitude somehow feels refreshing. My biggest couch-pop watching WrestleMania came when he shockingly appeared in - and then won - the third Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Hey, that actually sounds like something important when I'm not hearing JBL shout it at me.
I'm also actually glad Corbin isn't being sent down the undefeated streak route again, having suffered a roll-up loss to Ziggler on the Payback Kickoff Show. All that said, I do wish he was on the main card, and I do wish he was wrestling someone other than Ziggler. Apart from maybe one actual squash against the now-released Damien Sandow, we've only seen Corbin in singles matches against the Show Off. I do expect a late babyface comeback from Ziggler here, but it's time for Corbin to decidedly leave him laying and move on to something else.
Winner: Baron Corbin

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Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows vs. The Usos - Tornado Tag Match
The most surprising thing about Anderson & Gallows' debut/return to WWE is that they have not been made out to look like absolute monsters. That's fine, I suppose, but they've also almost exclusively gone head-to-head with Jimmy & Jey Uso. Of course this makes sense as an extension of the Club-versus-Bloodline World Title angle, though just like the Usos themselves it's become incredibly stale. I expect a competitive match that will hopefully feel fresher than the one we seem to get every Raw and SmackDown, hopefully with a conclusive Club victory - perhaps one that puts the Usos out of commission until Money in the Bank.
Winners: Anderson & Gallows

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Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho - Asylum Match
Lest it was all a work, I can only imagine what deal was struck backstage to get Y2J to stick around longer than was expected for his current WWE stint. Though it pains the Jericho fan in me to say, for years his angles have been dull since you always know he's going to lose and leave in the end. Yes, this is a fitting role for a bonafide legend no longer wrestling year 'round (which is not to accuse Jericho of being a "part timer") but for him it's overdone and predictable. When he actually managed to defeat AJ Styles at WrestleMania after telling an effective in-ring story, he felt legitimized once more.
Not only is Jericho an actual threat again, he's also cutting some of the best promos of his recent career and sounds more free on the stick. This is saying a lot considering A) he's freaking Jericho, and B) most of these promos have been about a potted plant.
The Dean Ambrose feud may have come from nothing - I still don't buy that they hate each other because of some silly "talk show" double-booking or whatever - but the segments that have come from it have been pure gold, and consistently the most enjoyable part of Raw and SmackDown. Ambrose has been sympathetic and vengeful, while watching Jericho heel it up has been a delight. Killing "Mitch" was a dastardly move for the highlight reels (no pun intended), and trapping Ambrose in a straight jacket was sheer genius. When Dean destroyed Jericho's latest jacket I was genuinely shocked. It may not have cost the purported $15,000, but it's not like that thing was some company prop.
After the straight jacket segment, I was pleading for a "straight jacket match" to be booked where the winner would be the first wrestler to incapacitate his opponent enough to fully strap them in a straight jacket. The reward would then be that the winner gets to exact punishment on their helpless victim. My armchair vision had Jericho winning to even out the feud, and "drinking in" the moment before turning to find an empty jacket and an Ambrose ambush. I was thrilled at the announcement of an Asylum match (complete with straight jacket in the prop list), and hope the result is the same. A match of this nature feels like a blowoff, though selfishly I'm crossing my fingers for one more showdown at Money in the Bank if only so I can enjoy more superbly entertaining free TV bits between these two superstars.
Winner (for now): Chris Jericho

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Kalisto (c) vs. Rusev for the United States Championship
Just when it seemed there was no hope left for salvaging Rusev, the guy appears on Raw looking more impressive than ever, and gets himself in position for another US Title run. Not much to this one, folks - after some exponentially strong showings with Ryback, Kalisto's reign has run its course and it's time to give the gold back to the Bulgarian Brute. Here's hoping this is the first milestone in a memorable road to the top of the card for Rusev. Contractual rematch with the same result on Raw, then cue John Cena's Memorial Day return (with Rusev going over in the feud this time)?
Winner and New Champion: Rusev

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The New Day (c) vs. The Vaudevillains for the Tag Team Championships
The insanely entertaining New Day have deservedly remained tag team champions for quite a long time now, though it can be easily argued this is in part due to the formerly weak state of their division. With the tag scene weak no longer, it is time for change. Personally I was never the Vaudevillains' biggest fan during their time in NXT, though it is undeniable they have a unique gimmick and put on some excellent matches. Since arriving on the main roster for some reason they've felt oddly stilted between the ropes, and as expected haven't quite been able to get over solely on the merit of their entrance (though the promo work has been suitably despicable). To me, this means the titles are the perfect thing to elevate them at this point in time.
Much as I love Enzo & Cass, wish for Enzo's safe return after that horrifying injury at Payback, and continue cheering for Big Cass' endearing perseverance in Enzo's absence, I do not expect their presence to be significantly felt here. By hook, crook, or Dudley Boy, Aiden English & Simon Gotch need to walk away with titles around their waists.
Winners and New Champions: The Vaudevillains

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The Miz (c) vs. Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn - Fatal 4-Way for the Intercontinental Championship
Perhaps the most consistently impressive pure wrestling in WWE's recent weeks has come from the Intercontinental Title scene - a program featuring some of the foremost athletes in the company today, and a source of both brilliant and questionable booking.
At Payback, the fluid segue of Owens vs. Zayn in to Miz vs. Cesaro was beautiful in its simple sensibility, and I'm not sure anyone can argue with the continued undercurrent of Owens and Zayn's deep-seated rivalry. At the same time, the main roster incarnation of Owens/Zayn has felt obligatory at times, and as with Club/Bloodline we've recently been inundated with various combinations of these four wrestlers going bell-to-bell. As entertained as I'm sure I'll wind up thanks to the performers in this Fatal 4-Way, I've had trouble actually getting excited for the darn thing.
It is possible, however, that I'm having trouble getting hyped for this one simply because it's difficult to envision an outcome that is not a Miz win. Respect it or not, Miz is one of the very best true heels in the company today, and the thought of him retaining his championship here is effectively annoying - a job well done on his part. My gut tells me Zayn will be our next Intercontinental Champion, but Extreme Rules will not be his night. If I had to guess, I'd say Miz gets a sneaky yet completely legal pinfall on someone he did not do the damage to.
Winner and Still Champion: The Miz

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Charlotte (c) vs. Natalya - Submission Match for the Women's Championship
If Ric Flair disobeys his ban from ringside, Charlotte will lose the title
The big question here isn't whether Natalya will wrest the Women's Title from Charlotte's grasp, it's whether this is Natalya's last match with WWE. Amidst dissatisfaction with her sideline role in her division, plus rumored legal battles concerning her husband Tyson Kidd's latest injury, it is widely supposed that this current "push" has been in part a response to her substantial Raw-after-Mania pop but also more of a farewell.
I have no clue what will happen with Nattie, but I can say with some confidence that she will not be going home with an extra carry-on around her waist. I believe Charlotte needs to prove she is capable of winning on the main roster without daddy nearby to lend a hand, and once this is done she needs to kick Ric to the curb - turning even more heel in the process. Shove him down! Throw that Rolex on him! Dastardly! Then, whether it all happens at Extreme Rules, spills over to Raw or gets spread out even further, I think we all agree there's only one superstar we want to see standing toe-to-toe with Charlotte for an epic build to SummerSlam. If you need me to tell you that superstar is Sasha Banks, maybe you haven't been paying attention.
Winner and Still Champion: Charlotte

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Roman Reigns (c) vs. AJ Styles - Extreme Rules Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
I'm just going to say it. Roman Reigns has won me over. That's not saying much for how long it took, but from where I'm sitting the experiment finally started paying off the night after WrestleMania when Roman - for the first time since his Shield days - came to the ring looking like a certified badass. No more smile, no more succotash, just a hulking package of confidence and brute force. The work he put in to his first match with AJ at Payback is easily my favorite I've seen from him. He was an immovable object and AJ had to find a way to make him budge.
As for AJ, while I was never one way or the other based on the admittedly little I'd seen from him in TNA, with WWE he's earned his way on to my radar in short order. Though all of us knew there was no way he'd walk away with the title at Payback, he was built up as a credible threat to the point that in the back of our minds we thought, "Maybe there's a chance!" I'm even more certain he will walk away empty-handed from Extreme Rules, though that doesn't take away the fact that when he and Reigns stand off - be it in a ring or backstage area - there is a palpable sizzle I haven't felt in ages.
I fully expect Reigns and Styles to tear the house down, no matter who interferes (Wyatt Family?) or what McMahon-related shenanigans may occur. But yeah, Reigns will likely be our champion... I'm going to say until Night of Champions, when Rollins wins it back. Fingers crossed!
Winner and Still Champion: Roman Reigns


Please disregard the fact that I've selected only heels to win. Reigns counts.

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