WWE Extreme Rules Preview: Brock Lesnar Should Beat Triple H
The undercard was just okay, although Brodus Clay beating Dolph Ziggler in four minutes hurt my head. It was the best pay-per-view of 2012. If I made a list of best WWE pay-per-views ever, it might be in the top 15 or 20. It was that good.
This year? I don't expect it to be as good. For one thing, the storylines heading into the show are just okay. None are excellent. There's also a lack of star power with no sign of CM Punk (out resting knee and arm injuries) and Dolph Ziggler missing in action due to a concussion. They are two of the best performers in WWE. It's hard to replace guys like that.
This year's Extreme Rules pay-per-view event is an average card. If the right matches get the most time, then it could be great. If some matches that should be kept shorter are given too much time, then it will hurt the show.
Generally speaking, WWE does an excellent job of timing their pay-per-views. The in-ring action is usually above average, too. My expectations aren't too high or too low. They're somewhere in the middle. Like I said, it has the makings of an average show.
The Miz vs. Cody Rhodes (Pre-Show)
There's not much in terms of build for this one. Maybe WWE can say that Miz is the most "must-see pre-show wrestler ever" like they did before WrestleMania or whatever the hell they were trying to say there. Neither guy has much direction these days. They're in the midcard not doing a whole lot. It would be nice if Rhodes had a bigger role. Miz will go over in a five-minute match to get a babyface win to start the show.
Winner: The Miz
Chris Jericho vs. Fandango
This feud has lost a lot of the momentum from where it began. This is one of the few matches on the card that is a WrestleMania rematch and it doesn't have a stipulation. That's weird. At least the stipulation doesn't have to do with dancing.
Jericho's promo near the end of Raw was good when he said he was sick of the guy and just wanted to beat him. Why couldn't they have done that instead of the terrible build that this feud had? It's as if the creative team realized how awful the feud was and had Jericho improvise that promo.
If they get 10-15 minutes it could be an entertaining match. Fandango won at WrestleMania, so a Jericho win makes sense especially if it leads to a third match. If it was me booking, I'd put Fandango over because as the newer character he should get the big win.
However, I'm picking based on a WWE booking perspective and since I think there will be another match in the feud, I'll pick Jericho to get his win back here. If there's a third match, I'd pick Fandango to win that to end the feud.
Winner: Chris Jericho
United States Title: Kofi Kingston vs. Dean Ambrose
I'm a fan of both guys (Ambrose more than Kingston) and it's a fresh matchup, so I'm looking forward to it. I've had a tough time deciding on this prediction. They have had six weeks between WrestleMania and Extreme Rules, yet this feud feels like it was thrown together within the last week. Shouldn't they plan these feuds better? Of course they should.
On the one hand, I think it's unlikely for Kingston to beat Ambrose clean just because I think Ambrose is booked strong and Kingston isn't a big enough name to go over him. It may be too soon to get the title off Kingston, since he's had some great matches since he's been the champion and keeping that momentum going could be a good thing.
I think the most likely finishes are Kingston retaining via disqualification (due to other Shield members) or Ambrose gets the title. Since I don't like predicting DQ finishes very often, I'll pick Ambrose. A screwy finish wouldn't surprise me because I think it's a bit too soon to get the title off of Kingston.
Then again maybe he is just a transitional champion between Cesaro and Ambrose. There are so many ways they can go with this one.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
Tag Team Championship: Team Hell No (Kane & Daniel Bryan) vs. The Shield's Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins (Tag Team Tornado Match)
It's time to do the tag title change. I've been predicted it for a while now, but now that The Shield are positioned as the top contenders, it's time to put some gold on them. Even though I think that Kane & Bryan holding the tag titles since September has been a great thing for the tag titles, it's time to move on.
I want to see Bryan pushed as a singles babyface star. Getting the tag titles puts over The Shield as a great team and it also opens that door for Bryan to ascend as a performer. He's too good to be in the tag division for much longer.
This could be one of the better matches on the show. I'm a fan of tornado tag matches where all four guys can wrestle at the same time. They have built up some chemistry too, so I'm looking forward to this one a lot. Hopefully it gets 15 minutes of in-ring time, but I think 10 minutes is more likely.
Winners: Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins
Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger (I Quit Match)
It's a shame that Dolph Ziggler has a concussion because I was really looking forward to the three-way ladder match for the World Title. I thought it was going to be the match of the night.
Now that Ziggler is out, they've replaced it with this "I Quit" match, which is a #1 Contender match even though there are two other midcard matches on the show that seem like a bigger deal (Orton/Show and Sheamus/Henry).
The "I Quit" stipulation works for them because of their submission holds. Their SmackDown match about a month ago was better than WrestleMania, so hopefully this match is more the SmackDown match was.
I think Del Rio will win because he's the babyface that makes more sense as an opponent of Ziggler. With that said, I don't know if they'll do Ziggler vs. Del Rio at the next pay-per-view, Payback. I can see them setting up a feud with Ziggler and Orton in the near future.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
Sheamus vs. Mark Henry (Strap Match)
I've liked the feud. I don't really like the Strap Match stipulation, though. It limits what you can do in the match. Basically, there will be a lot of whipping with the strap without much else. They can use weapons technically, but with so many other matches with weapons likely to be used, I doubt they use anything other than a ladder.
I'm a fan of Mark Henry's work since he returned, so I hope he goes over here. I don't think a loss hurts either guy that much. I'll pick Henry because I think he's a future pay-per-view opponent of John Cena and a win here would certainly help. It's rare for Sheamus to lose, though, so I'm not that sure about this one.
Winner: Mark Henry
Randy Orton vs. Big Show (Extreme Rules Match)
It feels like a matchup that is filler in a lot of ways. Why? Because they haven't done anything to really create interest in the storyline. Show cost Orton a match at WrestleMania, but it's not like that WrestleMania match was memorable anyway. It was just a regular match.
Here we are six weeks later and they have done little to add to the story. Orton's mannerisms are the same. Show is still the dominating heel. I'm not sure if Orton's long-rumored heel turn is even a plan at this point. Whether it's a plan or not, I have Orton winning this match. It makes more sense to me.
Winner: Randy Orton
Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar (Steel Cage Match)
It's the feud that didn't really need a second match, yet here we are with the third match. If Lesnar loses this match, then WWE really has their priorities screwed up. I realize that Lesnar is on a limited schedule, but it's not like Triple H is wrestling all the time, either. You can't keep booking Lesnar as this devastating heel monster if he continues to loses matches (he's 1-2 since he came back last year).
Who wins: Brock Lesnar or Triple H?
It's pretty simple: give Lesnar the win. I think the Steel Cage setting should allow them to have a physical style of match with some good drama including nearfalls as well as each guy trying to escape the cage. The best way for Lesnar to win is in a clean fashion. I hope that's what happens.
This might be the longest match on the card just because their previous two matches went 19 minutes (Summerslam) and 24 minutes (WrestleMania 29). It's a Triple H match. His matches always go long. It's not like he's going to book a match where he loses in 10 minutes. That would be wonderful for Lesnar, but I doubt that happens. Hunter's one of the strongest performers in the company even as an aging part-timer.
A decisive Lesnar win in 12 minutes is what I would do. But I'm not booking. I think Lesnar will still win, but it will not be as decisive as it should be.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
WWE Championship: John Cena vs. Ryback (Last Man Standing Match)
There are some people out there that have been messaging me for weeks saying that due to Cena's foot injury he should lose the WWE Title to Ryback. I don't agree.
Are you forgetting about the nearly two-year journey that Cena was on to win back the WWE Title? I really don't think he's going to lose the WWE Title in his first pay-per-view title defense. This is John Cena. He doesn't lose very often, especially one month into a title reign.
I guess it's a positive that people even think Ryback has a chance. I don't see him winning, though. Maybe if they do another pay-per-view match, but even then I doubt it.
Who wins: John Cena or Ryback?
The feud has been okay, but I worry about this match in terms of quality. I don't know if they have good chemistry. Obviously, they've been working on house shows a lot in the past month as a practice run for this match. I saw Ryback have longer matches with great workers like Daniel Bryan and Chris Jericho in the last month on SmackDown. They were fine. Not great, though. Against Cena? I have my worries.
The Last Man Standing match is a good stipulation because they can use weapons and have a brawl. The problem is we saw two LMS matches with Del Rio and Big Show already this year, so it doesn't seem that fresh of a stipulation.
Ultimately, I think Cena wins after 15 minutes of taking punishment and looking like a badass by coming back to win the match despite his foot injury.
Winner: John Cena
John Canton is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. You can read more of his work at his website TJRWrestling.com. He also writes for LayfieldReport.com. You can follow John on Twitter @johnreport.
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