WWE Extreme Rules 2014 Matches: Last-Minute Predictions for PPV Event
In just over 24 hours, World Wrestling Entertainment presents annual pay-per-view extravaganza Extreme Rules.
The show is headlined by three huge main event matches, none bigger than the six-man tag team war between The Shield and the recently reunited Evolution.
The Hounds of Justice have proven to be a much bigger threat than Triple H, Randy Orton and Batista could have imagined, and Sunday night they have the opportunity to stun the wrestling world by knocking off three of the most decorated and celebrated Superstars of this generation in the biggest match of their career.
Daniel Bryan defends his WWE World Heavyweight Championship for the first time against the Devil's Favorite Demon, Kane. The dangerous and sadistic star has brutalized Bryan since reintroducing the Big Red Monster to the WWE Universe and attempted to drag the bearded Superstar's beautiful wife Brie to the "depths of hell."
At Extreme Rules, Bryan will have to withstand the onslaught of his former tag team partner and one of WWE's most dangerous competitors, not to mention the potential interference of Stephanie McMahon, if he wishes to continue his hard-earned title reign.
John Cena's feud with Bray Wyatt and the Wyatt Family has taken its toll mentally, physically and emotionally in the weeks that have followed WrestleMania XXX. After Monday's display involving the youth choir, Cena is as frail as he has ever been.
Wyatt could finally push Cena over the edge and end the leader of the Cenation's grasp on sanity Sunday night.
With a strong card and a great deal of excitement surrounding the current WWE product, here is a look at last-minute predictions for every match on Sunday's broadcast.
Wee-LC Match: El Torito vs. Hornswoggle (Extreme Rules Kickoff Show)
On the April 15 episode of WWE Main Event, Hornswoggle debuted as the latest member of 3MB, accompanying the trio to the ring for their match with Los Matadores. A scuffle with El Torito at ringside during that match set off a chain of events that has led to the first-ever Wee-LC match in WWE history Sunday night on the Extreme Rules Kickoff Show.
The two competitors have met in several matches since tax day, including an El Torito win on the April 18 episode of SmackDown and Hornswoggle's revenge four days later on WWE Main Event.
On the May 2 SmackDown, the competitors signed a contract to meet in their first-ever gimmick match two days later.
The angle between Hornswoggle and El Torito has been fairly awful comedy and has dragged down the talented members of Los Matadores and 3MB in the process, but the audience still reacts for the matches and segments involving both competitors. Sunday night, they will have the opportunity to payoff their rivalry with a special match that, for whatever reason, management thought was a better addition to the card than anything involving Sheamus, Cody Rhodes and Goldust, the Usos or just about anyone else.
The match is begging for the babyface to go over, ending the program at the same. Expect El Torito to win the contest and pop the crowd to kick off the night's festivities.
Intercontinental Championship Match: Big E vs. Bad News Barrett
On the November 18, 2013 episode of Monday Night Raw, Big E capped off an impressive rookie year by defeating Curtis Axel to become the new Intercontinental champion. Since winning the title, he has notched victories over the likes of Fandango, Alberto Del Rio, Cesaro and Jack Swagger.
With no real defined No. 1 contender to the prestigious Intercontinental title, a tournament to fill that role began. Superstars such as former World Heavyweight champions Rob Van Dam, Dolph Ziggler, Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus and Mark Henry battled for the opportunity to face Big E at Extreme Rules.
After three weeks of fierce competition, the surging Bad News Barrett squared off against Van Dam in the finals. Captializing on interference from Jack Swagger and Cesaro, Barrett was able to finish RVD with the Bullhammer and earn the championship opportunity on May 4.
Since returning to the ring on the post-WrestleMania Raw, Barrett has made a tremendous impact, piling up victories over the likes of Rey Mysterio, Kofi Kingston, Sheamus and the aforementioned Van Dam. It has been a great renaissance for the talented Brit after a year in which he was mostly irrelevant.
His strong promo work coupled with a new attitude has gotten him over with the crowd in a way that he could never achieve as the leader of Nexus and The Corre.
Big E is a champion treading water at this point. He has done nothing of importance since capturing the title and has struggled to get any face time on Raw or SmackDown of late, settling for appearances on Main Event and Superstars instead. He is ice cold heading into Sunday's show.
In contrast, Barrett has been on television every week since returning to the squared circle. Barrett is incredibly hot right now, receiving the biggest pops of his career and delivering the best mic work of his entire four years with the company. Big E is not.
Most of all, Barrett is in the middle of a sizable push from management. Big E is not.
Expect to see a Bullhammer Sunday night, as well as a new Intercontinental champion in Bad News Barrett.
Divas Championship Match: Paige vs. Tamina Snuka
On April 7, NXT Women's champion Paige made her WWE debut, interrupting an AJ Lee promo. She simply wanted to congratulate the Divas champion but found herself on the receiving end of insults by the New Jersey native. AJ challenged Paige to the match and even put her title on the line.
It proved to be a major mistake as Paige fought out of the Black Widow, caught AJ with the Paige Turner and captured the title to the delight of the fans in New Orleans.
Since that career-defining night, Paige has been in action every week. She has defeated the likes of Alicia Fox and Aksana while the announcement was made that she would defend her title for the first time at Extreme Rules against AJ's bodyguard Tamina.
On the April 29 episode of Main Event, Paige and Tamina had their first altercation, a non-physical one that saw them stare each other down ahead of their title bout Sunday night.
Barring any sort of radical booking change, this one is a foregone conclusion. Paige is clearly the Diva of the future and her title reign is only just beginning.
Tamina will provide a great first challenge. Both women are hard-hitting competitors and their match at Extreme Rules could be one of the most physical in the history of the Divas Championship. The second-generation star will be booked strong but it will be Paige that leaves East Rutherford with her title intact and another match notched in her win column.
R-Truth and Xavier Woods vs. Alexander Rusev (with Lana)
On the April 14 Monday Night Raw, Alexander Rusev defeated fellow NXT alumni Xavier Woods in under a minute, continuing his reign of dominance in WWE. On SmackDown four days later, he defeated former United States and Tag Team champion R-Truth in just two minutes.
April 28 saw Rusev defeat Woods by disqualification after R-Truth interfered. Mentor and protege banded together to clear Rusev from the ring, much to the dismay of the Bulgarian Brute and his social ambassador Lana.
On the May 2 episode of SmackDown, Rusev again won by disqualification, this time over R-Truth when Woods interfered. For the second time in as many shows, Truth and Woods got one over on Rusev, clearing him from the squared circle and enraging the massive, athletic Superstar.
Alexander Rusev is a physically gifted Superstar who graduated from NXT to the main roster and since the night after WrestleMania, he has dominated any and all competition put in front of him. His Extreme Rules opponents R-Truth and Xavier Woods are just two examples.
It has taken two-on-one attacks by Truth and Woods to even faze Rusev. Even when they have stunned Rusev and dumped him from the ring, it only appeared to infuriate the Bulgarian rather than rattle him, and come Sunday night he will get his revenge.
Truth and Woods are really fun lower midcard stars that can be used to pop a crowd early in the card. Rusev, on the other hand, has the potential to ascend to a main event position one day. They are Superstars on polar ends of momentum and that will be on display at Extreme Rules as Rusev soundly defeats his two opponents.
Handicap match or not.
Triple Threat Match: Rob Van Dam vs. Cesaro vs. Jack Swagger
At WrestleMania XXX, weeks of frustration boiled over as Cesaro and Jack Swagger split up, bringing to an end the Real Americans tag team with a single Cesaro Swing. Later in the night, the Swiss Superman stunned the world by hoisting Big Show in the air, dumping him over the top rope and winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
The following night on Raw, Cesaro revealed that he was now a Paul Heyman guy and a feud with Swagger ensued. Over the next few weeks, the former partners found themselves at each other's throats, though not nearly as bad as managers Zeb Colter and the aforementioned Heyman.
On the April 21 Raw, Rob Van Dam and Cesaro competed against one another in the semifinals of the No. 1 Contender tournament for the Intercontinental title. Thanks to interference from Swagger, Van Dam scored a win over Cesaro.
On the April 25 episode of SmackDown, Heyman and Colter came to blows during a Great Debate segment and immediately afterwards, Cesaro defeated Swagger in a hard-fought match. Three days later on April 28, Cesaro again defeated Swagger.
Later in the evening, Van Dam insulted Heyman during a backstage interview. During RVD's tournament final against Bad News Barrett, both Swagger and Cesaro made their ways to ringside. Van Dam ultimately became distracted and found himself on the receiving end of a Bullhammer, losing out on a chance to add to his championship resume.
Van Dam would get a measure of revenge by delivering a Five Star Frog Splash to Cesaro.
Just 48 hours before Extreme Rules, Van Dam defeated Swagger, only to wind up suffering a Neutralizer from Cesaro.
Three immensely talented in-ring workers will clash in what could be a legitimate show stealer if given enough time.
Cesaro has been booked as an absolutely beast since WrestleMania, physically overwhelming opponents with uppercuts and stiff forearms to the delight of his agent Paul Heyman. He has amassed several impressive victories, mostly over Swagger, while continuing to prove himself as one of the best wrestlers on the planet.
Swagger has been very good as well but has not found the success that his former partner has. He has lost the majority of his matches since WrestleMania and has very little in the way of momentum heading into Sunday's Triple Threat match. He could use a win but is unlikely to leave East Rutherford with one in the bag.
Rob Van Dam is perpetually over with the WWE audience and really does not need a win to elevate his status in the company or remain relevant.
Cesaro should win this match and move on to bigger and better things. With Heyman by his side, he finally has that missing ingredient needed for main event success.
The only question will be what happens to Swagger, who very much feels like the odd man out in the equation.
Steel Cage Match: John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt
At WrestleMania XXX, Bray Wyatt lost to John Cena in a bizarre match that saw the "Reaper of Souls" try to drag the so-called monster out of Cena. He goaded the leader of the Cenation and at one point appeared to be succeeding. Cena stood in front of Wyatt with a chair, ready to blast him in the face with it and end his night.
Then, he thought better of it and opted to beat Wyatt the old-fashioned and honorable way.
The following night on Raw, the Wyatt Family gained a measure of revenge when they defeated Cena, Sheamus and Big E in six-man tag team action.
Wyatt continued his quest to drag Cena down to his level and unleash his inner monster on the WWE Universe. Promising to give Cena one last push into monstrosity, Wyatt accepted Cena's challenge for a Steel Cage match at Extreme Rules.
April 21 saw Cena's fate lie in the hands of the fans he fights so hard for on a nightly basis. The WWE Universe was presented an opportunity to put Cena in a singles match against Luke Harper, a two-on-one handicap match against Harper and Erick Rowan or a three-on-one handicap match against the entire Wyatt Family.
To his shock and dismay, the voting results revealed the third option. Cena looked disappointed and disgusted with the result but, as any honorable and respectable competitor would, went to battle. He would be beaten down and left in a heap as Bray Wyatt sang the haunting "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" to end the broadcast.
On the April 25 episode of SmackDown, Wyatt addressed the WWE Universe and warned Cena that he was entering a cage with a venomous snake.
April 28 saw a John Cena who was rattled and shaken by the fans' decision to side with Bray Wyatt and book him in a three-on-one handicap match the week before. He repeatedly asked the people why, then warned them about the kind of man Wyatt was.
He was cut off by the sound of children singing "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," then watched as a choir of young boys and girls followed Wyatt to ringside and, after the lights went out and came back on, sported sheep masks.
The typically unflappable Cena was clearly shaken but promised to beat Wyatt at Extreme Rules in a backstage promo with Renee Young.
The story heading into Sunday's Steel Cage match is as good as any WWE has produced in quite some time. The Wyatt character is so good, so convincing and so captivating that fans cannot help but be completely engrossed in the rivalry between he and Cena. In many ways, it mirrors the conflict between Batman and The Joker from the 2008 film The Dark Knight, something Cena has alluded to on several occasions since WrestleMania.
The booking of the last two weeks would seemingly indicate that Cena needs to go over to prove the villain wrong and give the fans the happy ending. But Wyatt's loss at WrestleMania, not to mention a story that does not feel complete as of yet, necessitates a win for the diabolically cerebral heel.
With Payback coming up on June 1, the company can bring the rivalry to a suitable conclusion in front of a rabid Chicago audience.
For now, Wyatt should win this match and continue Cena's emotional and mental downward spiral.
The Shield vs. Evolution
On the March 21 episode of SmackDown, The Shield was on a receiving end of a brutal, 10-on-one beatdown at the hands of Kane, the New Age Outlaws, 3MB, RybAxel and the Real Americans. The Hounds of Justice would gain a measure of revenge at WrestleMania by defeating Kane and the Outlaws in under two minutes.
It was 24 hours later that Kane revealed, during an emotional rant, that The Authority had perpetrated the beatdown of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. Ordered to join Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton in an assault of new WWE World Heavyweight champion, the Shield had different plans.
They hit the ring and stared down the heels before Reigns exploded with a spear to Triple H. Their display of defiance heightened their popularity and set them on a collision course with three of the top stars of the last decade.
A week later, they would find out just how dangerous those three could be. After being beaten down by 11 midcard heels, The Shield was brutalized and beaten down by a reunited Evolution. After a decade apart, Triple H, Batista and Orton reformed their revolutionary faction and worked as one to leave the Hounds of Justice lying in a heap.
The Shield, facing another 11-on-3 Handicap match on the April 25 episode of SmackDown, set out to send a message to Evolution and the entire WWE Universe as they calculatingly took out their opponents in an awesome display.
They dispatched of Jack Swagger, 3MB, Fandango and Curtis Axel before the scheduled main event started, then defeated Alberto Del Rio, Ryback, Damien Sandow, Bad News Barrett and Titus O'Neil later in the night. The entire episode served as the breakout performance of the Shield and proved that they were a legitimate threat to Evolution.
On the final Raw before Extreme Rules, The Shield and Evolution engaged in a heated brawl to close out the show, just moments after Ric Flair made his return to Raw and shockingly endorsed Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose.
The Shield, proving their resilience, withstood an early onslaught from Batista, Orton and Triple H and stood tall.
On SmackDown, Ambrose successfully defended his United States Championship, overcoming another numbers game to defeat Ryback, Del Rio and Axel in a Fatal 4-Way match. The Shield once again stood dominantly and united in the center of the ring to end the broadcast.
The most difficult match to predict on the Extreme Rules card, thanks largely to the heat and momentum surrounding The Shield heading into the event.
The Hounds of Justice are as over as any act in WWE right now and have the potential to become something truly special for the company. They have the cool factor, the presentation is phenomenal and the vigilante nature of the characters appeals to a large portion of the fan base.
With that said, Evolution only reunited three weeks ago. Triple H, Randy Orton and Batista have not teamed together in a decade and despite The Shield's attempts to hint at eventual dissension within the faction, it does not feel like the company would waste the reunion on a three-week storyline and a pay-per-view loss.
There is so much more that could be done with the group, not to mention so much more story to be told between them and The Shield, that they almost have to win to further the program.
Orton should regain some heat following his lackluster WWE World Heavyweight title reign by catching either Ambrose or Rollins with the RKO and winning the match for his faction.
Extreme Rules Match for the WWE World Title: Daniel Bryan vs. Kane
At WrestleMania XXX, Kane suffered an embarrassing, two-minute loss to The Shield. The following night on Raw, he went on a rant that exposed the Authority's involvement in the beatdown of the Hounds of Justice weeks earlier. His inability to control his emotions drew the ire of Stephanie McMahon, who asked him where the Big Red Monster was.
Kane retrieved his mask from a glass display case and one night later on Main Event, the Devil's Favorite Demon returned to WWE with an assault of the Big Show.
While all of this was going on, Daniel Bryan was celebrating the best week of his life. At WrestleMania, he defeated Triple H, then went on to capture the WWE World Heavyweight Championship from Randy Orton in a Triple Threat match that also involved Batista.
The following Friday, he married the love of his life, Brie Bella, and enjoyed a week-long honeymoon. When he returned, however, he found out his father had passed away unexpectedly in his hometown of Aberdeen, Wash.
With a heavy heart, Bryan appeared on the April 21 episode of Raw and was immediately confronted by Stephanie McMahon. One of the principal owners of WWE, she revealed that Bryan would defend his title agianst Kane at Extreme Rules, then watched from the ring as the Big Red Monster violently attacked Bryan.
He delivered three violent tombstone piledrivers around ringside, all the while Stephanie half-heartedly ordered him to stop. Bryan was stretchered out of the arena, his wife Brie by his side. His neck supported by a brace, many wondered if he would be able to compete at Extreme Rules.
Bryan, one of the most resilient and toughest Superstars on the roster, made his return a week later to address Stephanie. He called her apology "crap" and referred to his boss as a liar. Stephanie was disappointed in her assessment and booked Brie in a Divas Championship match against Paige.
During that match, Kane popped up from under the ring and attempted to pull Brie down "to the depths of hell." A still-injured Bryan managed to fight the Devil's Favorite Demon off, spoiling his attempts to abduct the beautiful Bella Twin.
On the May 2 SmackDown, Bryan watched from the ring as Kane vowed to destroy him and take the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
While the war between The Shield and Evolution looks like the most obvious choice for match of the night honors, it is this match that could prove to be the best and most interesting.
The Extreme Rules stipulation means that Bryan will not have to worry about carrying Kane to a great match under normal rules. Kane's strengths will be on display as weapons and brawling reign supreme. The two have worked together on countless occasions before and definitely have chemistry with one another. If they can utilize the stipulation to their advantage, they could steal the show, leading to the first great defense of Bryan's title reign.
Whether Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella get involved remains the biggest question. Both ladies have played key roles in the story leading into the match and it would be a major missed opportunity for them to not get involved. A catfight between the two could be a great way to both pop the crowd and lead to a creative, exciting finish.
Either way, Bryan wins here to continue his title reign. How he wins, though, may dictate the quality of his run on top and whether or not there is a rematch to be had with Kane.