WWE Extreme Rules 2016: Smart Booking Decisions for PPV's Top Feuds
WWE's "New Era" is underway, which means the booking of Extreme Rules 2016 will be crucial.
The right decisions will help convince fans the product is changing for the better. On the other hand, one false move could negate the goodwill that's been accumulating since WrestleMania.
As the company attempts to overhaul all areas of its roster, this is an important time for various superstars. This is the last pay-per-view before Money in the Bank 2016, an event that's historically indicated which wrestlers are next in line for the world title.
Great performances alone won't elevate up-and-comers to the world title picture—it takes good booking to do that.
Here are some smart booking decisions for the top feuds going into WWE Extreme Rules 2016.
Deliver Something Extreme
The Extreme Rules pay-per-view was originally a successor to the One Night Stand chronology, building on the sort of hardcore competition fans grew to expect from ECW.
More recently, however, the show has failed to live up to that billing. Even when stipulations are added to matches, they rarely bear the sort of intensity and jeopardy that the word "extreme" suggests.
Not every match on the card has to be a throwback to the days of the Hardcore Championship, but there should be some action that goes beyond what's normally expected. Pay-per-views could stand to be more distinct, and Extreme Rules could easily stand out from the crowd.
Dean Ambrose deserves to be the man who demonstrates that he's more extreme than anyone else on the roster. Last month, his match at WrestleMania fell flat because it wasn't anywhere near as violent or unruly as it could have been.
A victory over Chris Jericho won't mean as much as a win over Brock Lesnar would have—but seeing Ambrose dip into his hardcore war chest would be a good way to continue building the legend of The Lunatic Fringe.
Give The Vaudevillains the Gold
Just weeks after their main-roster debuts, The Vaudevillains are challenging for the Tag Team Championships currently held by The New Day.
Given that many believed The Vaudevillains would sink immediately after graduating from NXT, it's something of a surprise to see them receive such a strong push.
Now it's time to go all the way and crown new champions.
Aiden English and Simon Gotch might not have the natural charisma of Enzo Amore or the physical build of Colin Cassady, but they do have talent between the ropes. They're capable of hanging with the best in the ring, and they're increasingly able to get the desired reaction out of a crowd.
That's perfect for a tag division that's currently overflowing with fan favourites, and it presents a huge opportunity to start building a new pair of champions for other duos to chase.
The New Day has had a great run with the belts, but short of a program with Enzo and Cass, the group has achieved much of what it can do with the title. Put the titles on Gotch and English, and perhaps we'll see them develop as much as The New Day has over the past year.
Let the Women's Championship Match Go Long
All the pieces are falling into place.
Ric Flair is already banned from ringside, the submissions-only stipulation should keep things in focus and champion and challenger are both terrific athletes.
It seems that the only thing preventing the WWE Women's Championship match at Extreme Rules from being a definitive encounter between Charlotte and Natalya is the threat of the bout being rushed.
Natalya is a top-tier wrestler in danger of falling out of the spotlight thanks to the current crop of exciting new talent. This match should be a showcase of what she's capable of, a demonstration of why she deserves to remain at the forefront of the women's division.
WWE has made some much-needed changes to its presentation of women's wrestling in recent months and deserves a lot of credit for doing so. Now it's time to build the legacy of the new WWE Women's Championship—and this match has the capability to contribute to the process.
Don't Relegate Kalisto to the Pre-Show
Ever since Kalisto won the United States Championship at the Royal Rumble, every single pay-per-view title defence he has made has been on the pre-show.
The pre-show isn't a bad spot on the card—it's designed to convince people to watch the pay-per-view, so it makes sense for an exciting performer like Kalisto to be featured prominently.
However, when the United States Championship is such a staple of the pre-show, it makes the belt look inferior to the similarly positioned Intercontinental Championship. Kalisto's defences seem like throwaways, even though they've been consistently good.
Kalisto has proved that he works well with a larger opponent, and Rusev should make for an even better foil than Ryback has over recent months.
This bout could well steal the show, so WWE should give it a prominent position on the main card.
Make the Main Event Matter
WWE is sitting on an enormous angle as we head into the summer. AJ Styles, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows are embroiled in a feud with Roman Reigns and The Usos—but it still feels like we're in the preamble to something bigger.
Whether it's a Shield reunion to take down the threat or the long-awaited debut of Finn Balor, there's a palpable level of excitement over what's coming. However, there's a risk that all the anticipation might come to nothing.
At Payback earlier this month, many expected a surprising end to the main event. The match delivered in terms of action, but there wasn't the shock factor that would make the following night's edition of Raw a must-see broadcast.
There's the potential for an engrossing program here, but it's not quite there as it stands. There's a sense of trepidation, and it seems likely that it comes as a result of the absence of at least one major player.
The main event of Extreme Rules will take place under the titular stipulation, so there's plenty of scope for run-ins on the night. An appearance from either Seth Rollins or Finn Balor to choose a side in the conflict is the best way to kick this feud into overdrive.
What are your booking suggestions for Extreme Rules 2016? What decisions could spoil the show? Let us know in the comments section below.