The fifth annual WWE Extreme Rules is scheduled to hit the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on May 19, which means that we are just a little more than four weeks away from the event.
Since 2009, Extreme Rules has not failed to impress WWE fans like other failed pay-per-view concepts have, featuring classic matches such as Jeff Hardy vs. Edge and Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena while providing memorable moments the likes of CM Punk capturing his second World Heavyweight Championship from Jeff Hardy and John Cena duct-taping Batista down for a 10-count.
So far only three blockbuster matches for this year’s event have been announced, but all of them have show-stealing potential. Let’s take a look.
Out of all of the matches so far announced, this is the one that does not need a stipulation. If it gets one, I expect it to be a triple-threat submission match or some sort of submission stipulation-based match as all three men have holds that they actively feature during their matches. Originally, it was rumored that the World Heavyweight Championship match at Extreme Rules was going to be Jack Swagger vs. Alberto Del Rio in a rematch of their lackluster WrestleMania clash, but I am glad that it is not.
The Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger started off as the most interesting feud WWE was offering, but it turned stale and repetitive after the first four weeks. The lack of new content that Jack Swagger and his “founding father” and associate Zeb Colter certainly played a part in that, but as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the standards for Swagger might have been too high upon his return. With Swagger’s Patriot Lock being the main reason that “The Showoff” was able to cash in his Money in the Bank contract, this feud has given Swagger and Colter something new and interesting to talk about.
Like Swagger, Alberto Del Rio’s latest feud also hurt WWE’s newest Mexican hero. After a good feud with Big Show and some great matches with the Giant, the former World Heavyweight Champion’s rivalry with “The Real American” did not aid in establishing Del Rio as a babyface, but might even have hindered the progress. Del Rio isn’t bad in the ring; on the contrary, he’s one of the top five in-ring workers in WWE right now, but his mic skills and lack of natural charisma are what keep him from reaching that next level.
Ever since cashing in his World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank briefcase on the Raw after WrestleMania, Dolph Ziggler has been white hot. The reception to that moment was organic and was one of the best moments in WWE’s past five years that I can recall. I will admit that Ziggler’s skills inside the squared circle are exceptional, but his speaking leaves much to be desired at times with him mainly cutting “generic heel promo No. 1″ over the past few years. The champ’s alliance with NXT powerhouse Big E Langston and AJ Lee has been booming since he captured the coveted Big Gold Belt, but how long can that continue? It has been too many times where we have seen a heel that has barely been able to get his title reign started only to drop it back to the face champion. An example of this? Edge. Hopefully Ziggler will not be given the Edge treatment at Extreme Rules and hold on to the World Heavyweight Championship at least until SummerSlam.
My prediction for this match is that Dolph Ziggler, with help from his heavy Big E and girlfriend AJ, will retain the World Heavyweight Championship. Expect this match to be the match of the night since all three men involved are among the best wrestlers in the world right now.
Is this match necessary?
There’s no doubt that Triple H and Brock Lesnar sell pay-per-views—together I’m not sure, but individually they do. However, this is the third time we have seen this match. We saw it at SummerSlam in an underwhelming MMA-esque match and at WrestleMania 29 in a good No Holds Barred match. While their feud hasn’t been all that bad since both men returned in early 2013, Lesnar should be being used in other programs with less established stars. Ditto for Triple H.
The stipulation for this match, an “old school, down and dirty” steel cage match, is also unnecessary. Has anyone tried to get involved in the Lesnar/HHH feud? Unless you count Paul Heyman, not really. Perhaps the third time will be the charm for these two brawlers, but I doubt it since they have not completely succeeded in capturing their crowd with their on-and-off feud.
I think that about wraps it up for this match. Will it be great? No. It won’t even come close to living up to the expectations that Brock Lesnar’s last Extreme Rules match with John Cena set, but it will be passable since both men obviously know what they’re doing between the ropes and would know it blindfolded. Since “The Game” won their WrestleMania match, look for Brock to bring the pain and capture his second victory against Triple H in the past year.
This right here is the match that I am most looking forward to on the card. Ryback vs. John Cena. Champion vs. Cyborg. I wouldn’t call Ryback’s heel turn a success right now, but it’s been good so far and has logic in it. Not so much logic as for the WWE fans to get behind Ryback as a face, but enough for the Sin City wrecking machine to twist it into his own deformed heel logic. That’s classic wrestling, really.
There’s still time to build this feud, but everything has been done correctly so far. Ryback is primed on becoming World Wrestling Entertainment’s next star, while John Cena has spearheaded Vince McMahon’s company for seven years. This feud isn’t fake. it’s scripted, but not fake. Ryback, the man, not the character, has stated in interviews before that he thinks he can do a better job than John Cena as the face of WWE and at Extreme Rules, both Ryan Reeves and his character will be trying to do that.
I’m guessing that this match will have an added stipulation to it. Maybe a simple Extreme Rules one, but a Last Man Standing match is also possible. If a match could have used the Steel Cage stipulation, it was this one due to the involvement of The Shield in this rivalry the past two weeks. John Cena doesn’t need the WWE Championship, but can they have him drop it here without losing momentum? Absolutely. There’s no way that Cena is going to fall off his pedestal so to speak without the title. A Ryback victory will do wonders for the intense big man and will help validate him as a heel.
After last year’s event that was called the best WWE pay-per-view event of 2012, the expectations for this year’s Extreme Rules are certainly high, but I think that they can be met. We’ve got three matches with limitless potential already booked and there are sure to be more announced in the coming weeks. We can expect Fandango, WWE’s newest sensation, to compete, but his current rival Chris Jericho is not advertised for the event.
The other stars advertised for the event are Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, also known as The Shield. With their budding rivalry against Team Hell No, a match with them isn’t too far fetched, maybe even for the WWE Tag Team Championships. I, for one, would love to see The Shield defending the tag titles under the Freebird Rule.
This is an early prediction for pay-per-view of the year as Extreme Rules always creates an awesome environment. May 19 is going to be one of the biggest nights of the year for WWE, and I both hope and expect it to be a triumph.