WWE Extreme Rules 2018 Match Stipulations Failing to Live Up to 'Extreme' Title
The annual WWE Extreme Rules pay-per-view happens on Sunday, but based on this year's lineup, the show may not deserve the name it has been given.
This event was launched in 2009 when the company was still trying to convince fans its new ECW was just as good as the original, despite being a watered-down version featuring only a few stars from Paul Heyman's old roster.
The whole point of Extreme Rules was that every match was contested under some kind of hardcore stipulation. It was supposed to be the one night of the year when WWE felt like Extreme Championship Wrestling.
For the first three years, management stuck to this rule, but it began to abandon it in 2012 when the PPV featured two regular singles bouts. The next year included three standard matches as the company deviated even further from its original concept.
This brings us to Sunday's show. Out of the 11 scheduled contests, only five have special stipulations, according to WWE.com. Here is a complete look at the lineup:
- 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)
- AJ Styles vs. Rusev (WWE Championship)
- The Deleters of Worlds vs. The B-Team (Raw Tag Team Championships)
- Kevin Owens vs. Braun Strowman (Steel Cage)
- Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins (Ironman, Intercontinental Championship)
- Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax (Extreme Rules, Raw Women's Championship)
- Carmella vs. Asuka (James Ellsworth in a Shark Cage, SmackDown Women's Championship)
- Sanity vs. The New Day (Tables)
Let's take a look at which matches don't live up to the Extreme Rules name and how WWE can remedy the situation.
Carmella vs. Asuka
Ellsworth has been causing trouble for the SmackDown women's division for over a year, and everything he has done has been for Carmella.
The Princess of Staten Island has some kind of hold over him despite treating him like garbage and forcing him to wear a dog collar at one point.
Since returning at Money in the Bank, Ellsworth has adopted more of a misogynistic character who thinks he is better than all of the women in the company. He's like Andy Kaufman without the comedy skills.
WWE's solution to his interference is to stick him in a shark cage hanging above the ring. It's not a bad idea for a match, but it doesn't live up to the theme of the show. The competitors still have to follow all the normal rules of any singles bout.
Hopefully, WWE has something up its sleeve to make this contest worth sitting through, otherwise this is going to feel like a cheap attempt to sell its toy rings with shark cage accessories.
Both Tag Title Matches
WWE has two interesting feuds happening for the Raw and SmackDown Tag Team Championships, but neither one of the matches at Extreme Rules have a stipulation.
The Deleters of Worlds will attempt to stop The B-Team from doing impressions of Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt and Team Hell No has reunited to fight The Bludgeon Brothers.
Wyatt, Harper, Rowan and Kane all have a documented love for the demented, so any number of specialty matches would have worked to take advantage of their characters.
Hardy is one of the most prolific competitors in ladder match history. WWE could have used the ladder or TLC stip for him and Wyatt to teach Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas a lesson.
Both of these matches feel liked missed opportunities on WWE's part to make Extreme Rules more exciting, especially since there are so many options.
Bobby Lashley vs. Roman Reigns
WWE is likely going to close the PPV with Styles vs. Rusev or Lashley vs. Reigns. Even though there is no title on the line, The Big Dog is almost always in the main event.
Reigns and Lashley's feud was mediocre at best until their brawl on Monday's episode of Raw. The intensity and hatred they showed in this one segment did more to push this feud than everything they had done up to that point.
So what did WWE do with two of its top stars? It stuck them in a boring singles match at a PPV designed to feature hardcore wrestling.
Putting them inside a steel cage would have been perfect, but WWE already earmarked that stipulation for Owens and Strowman.
Last Man Standing, Falls Count Anywhere, I Quit, Hardcore and No Disqualification stipulations are all still available, and any of them would turn Reigns vs. Lashley into a match worthy of headlining the show.
AJ Styles vs. Rusev
Rusev vs. Styles is a fresh feud with the ability to take both men through the rest of the summer, but WWE isn't doing them any justice by booking a regular singles match at Extreme Rules.
Their styles couldn't be any different, but The Bulgarian Brute and The Phenomenal One have more in common than you might think.
They are both great athletes with a keen understanding of the technical aspects of pro wrestling. They also both like to utilize a variety of different kicks and submissions.
Had they been given a stipulation related to making their opponent tap out, WWE could have built this feud around the Calf Crusher vs. The Accolade.
Jeff Hardy vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
A little over two years ago, Nakamura was in New Japan Pro Wrestling and Jeff was working for Impact Wrestling and various indy promotions alongside his brother, Matt.
This is almost like the dream match we didn't know we wanted. The Rock Star and The Charismatic Enigma may end up stealing the show at Extreme Rules, but it's going to be hard when they don't have an extreme stipulation.
The obvious choice would be a ladder match due to Jeff's history with death-defying leaps, but he and Nakamura would likely make anything they were given work to their advantage.
They just one of six matches without a special stipulation at Sunday's PPV. WWE may choose to change a few bouts before the show, but we will probably end up with the card as it currently stands.
It's a shame management isn't going all in with the Extreme Rules theme, but it may feel like too much violence on one show would go against its PG rating.
What do you think? Which stipulations should WWE use to make Extreme Rules more exciting?