WWE Extreme Rules 2018 takes place on Sunday, but the lineup management has put together is anything but extreme.
This pay-per-view used to be a night when every match on the card had some kind of stipulation meant to increase the level of danger and excitement, but as of Monday morning, only two bouts have special rules.
Here is a complete rundown of the show, according to WWE.com:
- Bobby Lashley vs. Roman Reigns
- Jeff Hardy vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (U.S. Championship)
- Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin
- The Bludgeon Brothers vs. Team Hell No (SmackDown Tag Team Championships)
- The Deleters of Worlds vs. The B-Team (Raw Tag Team Championships)
- Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins (Ironman, Intercontinental Championship)
- Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax (Extreme Rules, Raw Women's Championship)
- Carmella vs. Asuka (SmackDown Women's Championship)
- AJ Styles vs. Rusev (WWE Championship)
The only matches even close to being worthy of the Extreme Rules name are the IC and Raw women's title bouts, but one of those stipulations doesn't allow for the wrestlers to break the usual rules.
Rollins and Ziggler will fight for 30 minutes to see who can get the most decisions by the end of the time limit. Disqualifications and count-outs are still in play.
If this were Backlash or another generic b-level event, this card would look great, but for a show meant to represent the legacy of ECW, it has a lot to be desired.
Let's look at a few ways WWE can ensure a successful PPV.
Management still has a week to adjust the card, so some of the scheduled matches could have a stipulation added to increase interest in the show.
Lashley and Reigns would be an ideal matchup to stick inside a steel cage, and Styles vs. Rusev would be a hard-fought submission match.
James Ellsworth has been causing trouble for Asuka in recent weeks, so having him hung above the ring in a shark cage or cuffed to the ring post would help The Empress of Tomorrow even the playing field.
Any of the contests already booked could be made better with any number of stipulations. WWE just has to figure out which rules work best for the different combinations of opponents.
With all PPVs now running four hours or more, plus a one-hour pre-show, WWE has the option of adding one or two additional matches without forcing any of them to feel rushed.
Bayley and Sasha Banks have been ramping up their storyline recently, with both women verbally and physically attacking each other to the point where Kurt Angle decided to send them to counseling with the world-renowned Dr. Shelby.
If they can't fix their problems by the end of Monday's Raw, Angle may decide to have them settle their differences at Extreme Rules.
Another ongoing storyline without a spot on the card is Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens. The Monster Among Men has made it his mission to make Owens' life miserable, and he seems to be succeeding judging by the pain and suffering he has inflicted over the past month.
Owens has been attacked, thrown off the stage in a portable toilet and had his car tipped over. Needless to say, they have some issues to work through. It would be surprising if they didn't end up with a match on Sunday.
Then there's the forgotten cousin of Raw and SmackDown known as 205 Live. If you have been watching the weekly cruiserweight show recently, you know it has been producing some incredible action.
Cedric Alexander, Buddy Murphy and Mustafa Ali have been nothing short of thrilling in their quest to prove who the best cruiserweight is once and for all.
The strange thing is WWE has a title match set for Tuesday's show between Alexander and Hideo Itami. It's possible some kind of interference will lead to another championship contest being booked for Extreme Rules, but based on recent trends, 205 Live will likely be ignored once again.
Give Us Something Unexpected
When WWE was at its peak of popularity during the Attitude Era, every week seemed to feature a big swerve or shocking heel turn. It was a fun time to be a fan.
While today's wrestlers are just as good, the company itself doesn't offer the same level of unpredictability as it used to. The matches are quality, but everything else is paint-by-numbers booking.
Brock Lesnar created a ton of buzz by showing up at UFC 226 to challenge Daniel Cormier, so capitalizing on his momentum with an unannounced appearance at Extreme Rules would help set the stage for a title match at SummerSlam.
A couple of injured Superstars are close or already prepared to return to the ring. Perhaps someone like Jason Jordan or one of the Bella Twins will decide to use Sunday's PPV to make a name for themselves.
WWE has a lot of ways it can make Extreme Rules memorable, but we will have to wait until Sunday to see how things go.
What do you think WWE should to ensure a successful Extreme Rules pay-per-view?