The 2012 Extreme Rules pay-per-view was one of the best WWE PPVs in recent history.
The star-studded show even topped WrestleMania 28, a good show that took place just a month before it, and featured three awesome matches that ranked among the best of the year: John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar in an Extreme Rules match, CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho in a Chicago Street Fight for the WWE Championship and Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan in a 2-out-of-3 Falls match for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Throw in a very good Falls Count Anywhere match between Randy Orton and Kane, and Extreme Rules 2012 blew every other PPV completely out of the water that year. In fact, no PPV of the last five years has measured up to it.
Of course, that puts a lot of pressure on Extreme Rules 2013, which is always going to be compared to its great predecessor.
This year’s pay-per-view is shaping up to be a solid one so far, but will it be able to live up to last year’s epic show? Just looking at the matches that have been added to the card thus far, it’s highly unlikely that it does.
Here are announced matches for the upcoming Extreme Rules PPV:
- WWE Championship Match: John Cena (c) vs. Ryback
- Triple Threat Ladder Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. Jack Swagger vs. Alberto Del Rio
- Steel Cage Match: Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H
Here are matches that will likely be added to the card in the near future:
- WWE Tag Team Championship Match (possibly a handicap match): Team Hell No (c) vs. The Shield
- Randy Orton vs. Big Show
- Sheamus vs. Mark Henry
- United States Championship Match: Kofi Kingston (c) vs. Big E Langston
- Divas Championship Match: Kaitlyn (c) vs. AJ Lee
The top three matches are set in stone right now (assuming Cena stays healthy) while the rest of the card is up for debate, though, recent happenings on WWE TV suggest that these are very likely for the PPV.
At least on paper, this card just doesn’t seem like it will be as good as last year’s show—mainly because two out of the three main events probably be won’t be all that good.
Cena vs. Ryback is undoubtedly a star-studded battle, but in all likelihood, their styles won’t mesh very well. Cena has never been the greatest at working with big men, as his matches against the likes of Big Show or other behemoths have generally proved to be snooze-fests.
Throw him in the match with a very unproven big man like Ryback, and what do you think will happen? Odds are that we’ll get a clunky, slow-paced match that is a far cry from Cena’s matches against more athletic guys like CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler.
It’s not that Cena is a bad worker, despite what many of his haters will tell you. It’s just that Ryback hasn’t proven to be a great wrestler yet (if he ever will), and Cena really needs to be in there with the right guy if his match is going to deliver.
Like Cena vs. Ryback, many fans aren’t expecting the Extreme Rules match between Triple H and Lesnar to be very good, either.
“The Game” and “The Next Big Thing” have had two opportunities to put on great matches (at SummerSlam 2012 and WrestleMania 29, respectively), and neither match even remotely lived up to the “hype” that it had. In fact, both matches were pretty mediocre at best, which is why hardly anyone was beginning to see a third match between the two.
Yet, we’re getting Lesnar vs. Triple H 3, and I can’t help but feel like—despite the steel cage stipulation—this match is going to do exactly what the first two did: disappoint.
That makes the top two matches on the Extreme Rules card, Lesnar/HHH and Ryback/Cena, the ones that will likely be the most disappointing, which certainly isn’t the way that you want your PPV to be. But hey, at least there’s some hope for Extreme Rules.
The Triple Threat Ladder match for the World Heavyweight title will likely be a hell of a match because all three men involved in the bout can really go. Plus, we’ve seen Ziggler, Del Rio and Swagger have a ton of success in ladder matches in the past. They’ve all won a Money in the Bank match, and both Del Rio and Ziggler have delivered some great performances in ladder matches—Ziggler against Cena at TLC 2012 and Del Rio at TLC 2011 and earlier that year against Christian at Extreme Rules.
What will be the "Match of the Night" at Extreme Rules?
The stage is set for this bout to be the match of the night, and odds are that it will be. Truth be told, its only real challenger will be the (likely) match between Team Hell No and The Shield.
The Shield is yet to have a bad match in the WWE so far, and being that they’ve already been in the ring with Kane and Daniel Bryan in the past, it’s safe to assume that their trend of having great matches will continue at Extreme Rules.
Beyond The Shield vs. Hell No and the Triple Threat match, however, the rest of the card appears to be pretty lackluster.
Sheamus vs. Henry could be OK, as could Randy Orton vs. Big Show. But just being OK is not going make the 2013 Extreme Rules PPV comparable to the great 2012 version of the show.
With a big question mark that is a potential Kingston/Langston match and the bathroom break that a Kaitlyn/AJ match would be sure to provide (thanks to how it’s booked more so than the girls involved), Extreme Rules could end up being only slight above average.
We could potentially witness two very good—if not great—matches at Extreme Rules, but beyond that, there isn’t a whole lot to be excited about with this card.
Extreme Rules 2013 definitely won’t live up to Extreme Rules 2012.
With a hobbled Cena and no Punk, the real question we should be asking is whether or not it will be anything more than mediocre.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!