Whether you like gimmick pay-per-views or not, there is no question that Extreme Rules is shaping up to be a good one. All of the main-event matches look solid on paper with John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar, CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho and Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan. Also, all of them will have a special stipulation of some kind.
While none of the stipulations given are inherently bad, I can't help but think that there were better choices to be made. The right stipulation can take an ordinary match to the next level, and while all of the main-event matches have the potential to steal the show, I have a hard time believing that they'll all live up to their potential with their current stipulations.
Here are the stipulations that I would have booked for each of Extreme Rules' three main-event-caliber matches.
John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar: Special Guest Referee Match
Which stipulation change would be the biggest improvement?
Since returning to WWE a few weeks ago the night after WrestleMania, Brock Lesnar has made it a point to target John Cena. He has already given him an F5 twice and he also busted Cena open during a brawl. In what was somewhat of a surprise, it was announced that Lesnar would step back into the ring almost immediately as he and Cena will face off in an Extreme Rules match at Extreme Rules. While that stipulation is fine, I believe John Laurinaitis serving as the special guest referee should have been added.
With Laurinaitis bringing in Lesnar to usurp Cena's role as the alpha male in the WWE, it seems as if the creative team is trying to mold Laurinaitis into a Vince McMahon-esque authority figure with Cena playing the role of oppressed superstar, much like "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Laurinaitis ensured that Cena lost to Lord Tensai on Monday when he sent David Otunga into the ring to interfere, so he has already made it a point to screw Cena over.
McMahon never hesitated to involve himself in matches as a referee or an enforcer, and making Laurinaitis the referee would have enhanced things. I would be shocked if Lesnar doesn't win since he would lose all of his momentum if he doesn't. Also, creative seems to be going somewhere with Cena's continual losing and fall from grace, so having Laurinaitis blatantly favor Lesnar as a referee would have been a nice touch.
CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho: I Quit Match
When it was officially announced that Chris Jericho would receive a rematch for CM Punk's WWE Championship at Extreme Rules, I fully expected the stipulation to be an I Quit match. It only makes sense since Jericho utilizes the Walls of Jericho while Punk uses the Anaconda Vice. Both of them tried to lock their respective submission finishers in on multiple occasions at WrestleMania and Punk ultimately won by forcing Jericho to tap out.
Despite that, the stipulation for their rematch will be a Chicago Street Fight. I'm not sure how that's any different from a normal Street Fight besides the fact that it's taking place in Chicago, but I digress. Because of how personal this feud has gotten with Jericho pouring alcohol on Punk and accusing him of becoming a drunk like his father, a Street Fight isn't a terrible choice since it will allow for plenty of emotion.
An I Quit match is tailor made to the strengths of both competitors, though, so that likely would have produced the best results. The only reason I can think of for the WWE going in a different direction is that the plan is for Jericho to win, but they didn't want to make Punk look weak by giving up. That could have been solved by involving Punk's family in the match, though. Punk said that he would beat Jericho in front of his family, so perhaps Jericho could have harassed Punk's father and tried to force him to drink unless Punk gave up. That would have made Jericho look even more dastardly and wouldn't have hurt Punk in the least.
Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan: Steel Cage Match
After Sheamus beat Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight Championship in 18 seconds at WrestleMania, much of the WWE Universe was up in arms. These two men have the ability to work a spectacular match as Bryan is one of the best pure wrestlers in the world while Sheamus may be the best big man in the company. Luckily, those fans will finally have the opportunity to see a legitimate match between the two at Extreme Rules as they will engage in a best two-out-of-three falls match.
In one respect it's a solid choice for a stipulation because it allows for a long match with plenty of action, but the strong possibility of outside interference could ruin it. I don't always mind when there is some form of interference, but there really isn't any doubt that AJ will get involved somehow as she continues to speak with Bryan and look at him admiringly despite the fact that he embarrassingly dumped her a couple weeks ago.
The most likely scenario is AJ pretending like she's in Bryan's corner only to help Sheamus instead as revenge for the breakup. It makes plenty of sense, but most don't want to see Bryan lose due to outside sources again. Having the match take place in a steel cage would have eliminated the possibility of outside interference and it also would have made sense from a storyline perspective. Bryan beat Big Show and Mark Henry in a steel cage and has had success in enclosed environments, but it would have represented Sheamus' first opportunity to get his hands on Bryan without Bryan being able to escape the situation.