Bold Predictions for WWE Extreme Rules 2018 Matches
WWE Extreme Rules 2018 is an absolutely loaded show on paper, with the most ruthless rivalries from Raw and SmackDown Live set to come to a head in several stipulation matches.
Granted, the event is far from what it used to be, as a majority of the matches on the card will be contested under standard rules. Although that defeats the purpose of the pay-per-view, it should still exceed expectations even though there's been a lackluster buildup given what's on tap.
Roman Reigns and Bobby Lashley will clash for the first time ever in one-on-one competition, likely in the main event. Nothing will be up for grabs in the matchup, but one can only assume that the winner will earn the right to face Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at a later date.
Additionally, AJ Styles will defend his WWE Championship against Rusev in what is bound to be a thrilling bout. The Phenomenal One has faced some tough competition over the course of his reign as WWE champion, but he has yet to take on anyone as resilient as Rusev has been in recent weeks.
The rest of the card has plenty of promise as well, especially if the outcomes aren't as obvious as they seem. As the event draws closer, now is the time to offer to make bold predictions and attempt to anticipate what will happen in the night's biggest matches.
A major swerve or two at Extreme Rules 2018 could be enough to get both brands back to being must-see on a weekly basis as the summer season rolls on.
Jeff Hardy vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (United States Championship match): Coming off a string of losses to AJ Styles on pay-per-view, Nakamura desperately needs a rebound victory of some sort, which is why him vying for the United States Championship is no coincidence. Hardy has had a solid U.S. Championship reign up to this point, but the time has come for Nakamura to take the title from him.
Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax (Raw Women's Championship Extreme Rules match): The Bliss vs. Jax narrative has long overstayed its welcome, but we can only hope that the blow-off to their rivalry will be worth it. A feud pitting Bliss against Ronda Rousey was teased before the latter's storyline suspension and thus Bliss walking away with the title intact here is a must.
Carmella vs. Asuka (SmackDown Women's Championship match): Asuka fell short of capturing the SmackDown Women's Championship at Money in the Bank due to interference from James Ellsworth, and although he'll be hanging high above the ring at Extreme Rules in a shark cage, he'll find a way to get involved and help Carmella retain her title once again.
Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin: With nothing up for grabs in this match, it's honestly difficult to care about the outcome. Constable Corbin is all over Raw nowadays, so him winning in fluky fashion seems to be most likely.
The New Day vs. SAnitY (Tables match): SAnitY's booking on the main roster has been questionable up to this point, but WWE has a chance to rectify that with a win for them in this Tables match on the Extreme Rules Kickoff show. Expect them to reign supreme so they can get back on track.
"Woken" Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt vs. The B-Team (Raw Tag Team Championship match): This feud has largely underwhelmed over the past two months with The B-Team winning at every turn. However, at the end of the day, they are glorified comic relief and have no business winning the tag team titles.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins (Intercontinental Championship Iron Man Match)
Seth Rollins had been rocking and rolling as Intercontinental champion dating back to WrestleMania 34 in April, which is why Dolph Ziggler beating him for the belt one night removed from Money in the Bank came as such a surprise.
Ziggler was a weird choice considering how he had been ice cold for years, yet his in-ring abilities are second to none. The two championship clashes between Rollins and Ziggler in the last month were excellent and their upcoming encounter at Extreme Rules should be no different considering it will be contested under Iron Man rules.
The outcome of this match largely depends on what WWE has planned for Rollins going forward. If he is slated to re-enter the Universal Championship picture at SummerSlam, then him losing to Ziggler decisively is a no-brainer.
However, it is also entirely possible that Roman Reigns and/or Bobby Lashley could be primed to go for the gold next month instead. Needless to say, Rollins can't be directionless heading into that event, so him regaining the Intercontinental Championship at Extreme Rules may not be as far-fetched as some may think.
That would also make sense of Drew McIntyre's victory over Rollins on Monday night. Rollins vs. Ziggler vs. McIntyre would be a terrific Triple Threat match for the biggest party of the summer
Prediction: Seth Rollins wins the Intercontinental Championship.
The Bludgeon Brothers vs. Team Hell No (SmackDown Tag Team Championship)
From The Usos to Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, The Bludgeon Brothers have steamrolled through their competition with ease since joining the tag team ranks late last year. That said, they finally met their match in Team Hell No when Daniel Bryan and Kane reunited to rival the SmackDown Tag Team champions last month.
Of course, their reunion breaths new life into an otherwise stagnant tag team division, but the Team Hell No act should not be dragged out beyond Extreme Rules. As fun as it has been to see them on the same side of the squared circle again, Bryan deserves better than the tag team division at this point in time.
Team Hell No becoming tag team champions for the first time in five years at Extreme Rules would seem to be the best bet, but The Bludgeon Brothers should remain undefeated a little while longer. There are more teams they have yet to face on the blue brand and therefore they need to retain the twin titles at Extreme Rules.
From there, Bryan can rekindle his rivalry with The Miz, a feud that has been heavily teased for a few years. Those two could have a compelling program and face off in a marquee match at next month's SummerSlam event.
Either way, Team Hell No has a short shelf life and should not unseat The Bludgeon Brothers as champs on Sunday.
Prediction: The Bludgeon Brothers retain the SmackDown Tag Team Championship.
Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens (Steel Cage Match)
Braun Strowman's huge victory at Money in the Bank earned him the opportunity to vie for the Universal Championship at any time and place of his choosing. In the meantime, though, he has had his hands full with Kevin Owens, who has been a massive thorn in his side for many months.
At times, their rivalry has been entertaining, but at other moments, it's also been downright ridiculous. Strowman has been dominant at every turn and their Steel Cage match at Extreme Rules should be no exception.
In theory, in a matchup where one can win without pinning or submitting their opponent, this would be the perfect place to give Owens a cheap victory over The Monster Among Men. That would certainly cement Owens as a top heel on Raw again and prolong the program heading into SummerSlam.
Unfortunately for Owens, it's highly unlikely that he'll have his hand raised when all is said and done at Extreme Rules. Strowman is the clear fan favorite at the moment and could be cashing in his contract for a shot at the Universal title sooner rather than later.
With this bout, it's best to play it safe and pick Strowman to emerge victorious inside the steel cage.
Prediction: Braun Strowman wins.
AJ Styles vs. Rusev (WWE Championship)
Rusev shocked the world when he reigned supreme in a Gauntlet match on the June 19 edition of SmackDown Live to punch his ticket to Extreme Rules and become the new No. 1 contender to the WWE Championship.
It was seen as an upset win for Rusev considering how he has flown under the radar for months, yet he has long deserved an opportunity such as this one. Furthermore, there isn't a better opponent for him to test his mettle against than AJ Styles, who has been the face of SmackDown for the past two years.
With SummerSlam right around the corner, however, it's painfully apparent this is merely a filler feud for Styles. It has been entertaining while it as lasted, but the chances of Rusev capturing the championship so close to SummerSlam are fairly slim unless WWE decides to run with Rusev as champ for the foreseeable future.
This is another instance where it would be a pleasant surprise to see Rusev overcome the odds and become WWE champion, but Styles successfully retaining his title is a solid option as well. There are plenty of people for him to face in the coming months, especially on a stage such as SummerSlam in August.
If nothing else, Rusev can be made to look credible in defeat by having a strong showing and proving to the masses that he belongs among the elite in WWE.
Prediction: AJ Styles retains the WWE Championship.
Roman Reigns vs. Bobby Lashley
What was supposed to be a multi-man main event at Extreme Rules to determine Brock Lesnar's next Universal Championship challenger turned into a one-on-one outing pitting Bobby Lashley against Roman Reigns.
Sadly, their feud has mostly been a disappointment since there isn't any real animosity between them and they aren't fighting for anything. At the very least, their pull-apart brawl on Monday's Raw was exciting and did its job in building anticipation for their upcoming encounter.
As previously noted, both are bound to be in contention for the championship before long and a win here would likely position one of them as Lesnar's opponent for SummerSlam. Reigns has fallen short of beating The Beast time and time again, whereas Lashley would be a fresh face in the title picture.
Although he hasn't been booked to be the most endearing babyface, Lashley is a much better option to take on Lesnar at this point than Reigns. He needs a victory over a notable name to launch him back into the main event scene and thus Reigns would be an ideal person for him to beat.
On a night that could provide a few twists and turns, Lashley beating Reigns en route to SummerSlam would be the most memorable of them all.
Prediction: Bobby Lashley wins.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.