WWE Extreme Rules 2018: B/R Expert Match Picks, Predictions and Analysis
WWE Extreme Rules is meant to be a throwback to the days of ECW, but this year's show barely deserves to be called extreme.
Out of the 11 scheduled matches Sunday, only five have stipulations. Here is a look at the lineup, 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)
- 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)
Bleacher Report's lineup of writers will analyze each feud and provide predictions for all of the matches. Our group is made up of the following:
Bobby Lashley vs. Roman Reigns
Q: If WWE decides to have someone other than Reigns dethrone Brock Lesnar as universal champion, would Lashley be the best choice? Why or why not?
AM: Absolutely not. Bobby Lashley's did nothing to get over with the crowd with that terrible feud against Sami Zayn. Brawn Strowman is the right choice because of crowd reaction alone.
Prediction: They fight to a draw.
CR: No. Lashley did some nice work as a heel who acted like he was above wrestling with Impact, but he hasn't done much since and still struggles on the mic. If he were being built up differently, I'd be more open to the idea.
Prediction: Reigns wins.
KB: The best choice has the Money in the Bank briefcase in his possession, and it's a bit disappointing that dynamic is being ignored. While Lashley could have a fun sprint against Brock Lesnar similar to Goldberg, he doesn't have the character or fan interest that The Monster Among Men has.
Prediction: Lashley catches Reigns with a Spear to take the win and set up a match with Lesnar.
CM: I would love to see Strowman take the title, but seeing Lesnar vs. Lashley would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If WWE has the chance to book the match, it should.
Prediction: Nobody wins. We will get a double count-out or DQ to extend the feud.
Baron Corbin vs. Finn Balor
Q: Why do you think WWE hasn't had Balor use his Demon King entrance in so long?
AM: Knowing WWE, someone backstage—likely CEO Vince McMahon—woke up one day and just didn't like it and decided to not do it anymore on that basis alone rather than any kind of true character choice or advanced planning.
Prediction: Balor is victorious.
CR: The paint is expensive? Kidding aside, it seems like they want to save it for big moments. I'd like to think Balor considers more than two shows a year big moments, but hey.
Prediction: Balor wins.
KB: The Demon seems to be viewed as a trump card to raise the stakes in a feud, with Balor lacking rivals worthy of that extra step. Right now, Balor is too irrelevant in the larger scope of the division to bring out the best aspect of his gimmick.
Prediction: Balor runs through Corbin quickly.
CM: I wish I knew. The makeup and entrance make him into a completely different person, and WWE hasn't capitalized on the concept at all. The merchandising alone should give WWE a reason to have him use it at least three or four times per year.
Prediction: Corbin gets an upset with dirty tactics.
The New Day vs. Sanity (Tables)
Q: Which member of Sanity do you think has the best chance of becoming a breakout singles star? Explain your answer.
AM: Killian Dain, if given different ring gear, could find himself getting a big push in the future based solely on his size, whereas Alexander Wolfe is the fall guy and Eric Young is smaller and less likely to stand out among the rest of the roster.
Prediction: Sanity gets the win.
CR: Dain has the most ridiculous ring attire in human history, so he's out. I'll take the easy way out and go with Young because he's interesting, good on the mic and in the ring.
Prediction: Sanity wins.
KB: I'm going to cheat here and mention the one member of Sanity still not on the main roster. Nikki Cross so clearly inhabits her character and brings such energy to her performance that it makes the men feel like they're not trying, making her a potential headline attraction in the women's division.
Prediction: Sanity takes the victory.
CM: The obvious answer is Young because of his experience and large fanbase, but there is something special about Dain. He is a unique talent who could become a breakout star like Strowman if he plays his cards right.
Prediction: Sanity wins decisively.
Kevin Owens vs. Braun Strowman (Steel Cage)
Q: How would you book this match to end if you were Vince McMahon?
AM: Since I'm hoping Lesnar drops the Universal Championship to Strowman at SummerSlam, I want The Monster Among Men to come out on top looking strong. Despite my love for Kevin Owens, he needs to look like a chump, failing to escape while Strowman tosses him around before casually stepping out of the door, just to make a point of how dominant he is.
Prediction: Strowman wins.
CR: Well, WWE doesn't like having a ton of dangerous heels or something, so The Prizefighter is out of the question. It feels like we're stringing along Strowman until SummerSlam and Lesnar, and this is built for him to lose without pinfall or submission, so I'd book Owens to use his wits and escape.
Prediction: Owens escapes.
KB: This feud has been entertaining for a short time, but it needs to end here. Therefore, I would have The Monster Among Men put down Owens with a trio of powerslams to finish this feud with an impressive victory.
Prediction: Strowman beats KO out of the cage to win.
CM: If I were McMahon, Strowman would win and end up throwing Owens through the wall of the cage. The CEO clearly loves The Monster Among Men, judging by how many expensive segments he has been a part of.
Prediction: Owens narrowly escapes the cage to win.
Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax (Extreme Rules, Raw Women's Title)
Q: Ronda Rousey will be at ringside for this match. Do you think this is the best way to use her, or should WWE have found a different role for her in this scenario?
AM: SummerSlam is the bigger platform for her title win over Bliss, so this is fine. It keeps her in the mix without having to waste her wrestling, propels the story further, and doesn't take away from Bliss and Jax having most of a match on their own before she gets involved.
Prediction: Bliss retains the title.
CR: Sure. It gives her a fun spot and keeps her involved while procrastinating on her bit of revenge for a bigger pay-per-view in August.
Prediction: Bliss wins.
KB: Obviously, WWE wants to use Rousey's star power to increase attention for Extreme Rules, but I would have kept her out of this match entirely. Her suspension was a natural way to allow Jax and Bliss to have one last match to settle the score before The Baddest Woman on the Planet took center stage.
Prediction: Bliss survives thanks to the accidental interference of Rousey.
CM: Rousey's presence at ringside does nothing unless she gets involved physically. I would have loved to see her thrust into a special referee role so she is forced to choose between personal feelings and acting honorably.
Prediction: Bliss retains.
Carmella vs. Asuka (SD Women's Title)
Q: Has James Ellsworth's return helped or hurt Carmella's character and title reign? Why?
AM: He helped just in the sense of stretching it out one more month, but since I'm not the fondest of stalling, I would have rather just seen Asuka win at Money in the Bank to avoid having to take another loss. Other than that one event, James Ellsworth has just stolen heat from Carmella and gotten in the way.
Prediction: Asuka wins the championship.
CR: It's not as bad as his MITB debacle, at least. Carmella has a defined role on the roster now and is doing some great heel work while benefiting from interference. I can't complain, and the payoff will be good.
Prediction: Carmella wins.
KB: Unfortunately, while Ellsworth's return has been fun, it has distracted from Carmella, who was repeatedly pulling out stellar heel promos on her own. The Chinless Wonder is just too much of the focus despite serving as The Princess of Staten Island's crony.
Prediction: Carmella retains again with clever help from a caged Ellsworth.
CM: I like Ellsworth as a performer and understand what he brings to this storyline, but Carmella hasn't had enough time on her own. She should get rid of him sooner rather than later so she can prove she is not reliant on his help.
Prediction: Asuka wins and then puts Ellsworth in an armbar while Carmella leaves him to suffer.
Jeff Hardy vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (U.S. Title)
Q: What stipulation should WWE have given this match to make it more extreme?
AM: Had Money in the Bank not just gone by, Jeff Hardy's specialty will always be a ladder match. However, with that being so recent, the only thing left would have been something like a stretcher match because of both of their recent injuries. But that wouldn't be as good as a regular fight, so they are better off without a stipulation.
Prediction: Nakamura wins the title.
CR: Falls count anywhere so Hardy tries some dangerous moves and costs himself the title. WWE has to get Shinsuke Nakamura back on track.
Prediction: Nakamura wins.
KB: This feud is just starting, so adding a stipulation to it would have felt a bit premature. However, I would love to see the climax of The Daredevil vs. The Artist as a ladder match.
Prediction: Nakamura plants Jeff with the Kinshasa to capture the U.S. Title.
CM: Ladders are an obvious choice, but I think something like a Hardcore or Extreme Rules match would have been better. It would allow Hardy to use a ladder if he wants, but the match would still have to end with a pinfall.
Prediction: Nakamura wins his first title on the main roster.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins (IC Title, Ironman)
Q: Excluding Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose, who would be a good choice to be in Seth Rollins' corner to even the odds, with Drew McIntyre set to accompany Dolph Ziggler to the ring? Why would that person be a good enforcer?
AM: Dean Ambrose would be the one and only person suited for the role, and he would have to turn heel to cost Seth Rollins the match. Other than that, nobody else has any storyline reason to be there and would just get in the way of the heels' use of the numbers game to win, which should definitely happen.
Prediction: Ziggler retains the title.
CR: Jason Jordan. The crowd would probably go mild, and we have to hope they don't resume the daddy storyline. But if an Ambrose surprise return is out of the question, Jordan might be as good as we get.
Prediction: Rollins wins.
KB: Rollins would be looking for someone who can match up to Drew McIntyre's size and power while lacking a rivalry of his own. The one star who would fit the bill and could use this spotlight is Bobby Roode given he's got the size and explosiveness to match up with The Scotsman.
Prediction: Rollins barely takes the victory 3-2 to earn the championship back.
CM: Big Show. I know a lot of people will be confused by this choice, but he is one of the only people who isn't booked somewhere else on the card who could neutralize McIntyre's size advantage. We haven't seen Show in a little while, so it would be fun to see him turn up to help Rollins.
Prediction: Ziggler retains in a barn-burner.
The Bludgeon Brothers vs. Team Hell No (SD Tag Titles)
Q: As a fan, which team would you like to see leave with the tag titles and why?
AM: Harper and Rowan haven't been as interesting in the past few months as I would have hoped, so I'd be more than okay with a temporary transitional reign for Team Hell No, who could drop the titles to Sanity at or right after SummerSlam. They're simply more fun than The Bludgeon Brothers.
Prediction: The Bludgeon Brothers retain the titles.
CR: Bludgeon Brothers, but only because the payoff would be seeing Team Hell No win the titles at a later date. Or you start a Kane vs. Daniel Bryan feud after a loss, which I'm here for.
Prediction: Bludgeon Brothers win.
KB: I prefer the tag team titles stay on established teams, so I would have Harper and Rowan emerge victorious, perhaps with some timely assistance from an A-Lister. This also allows Bryan to finally move on to a feud with The Miz.
Prediction: Bludgeon Brothers retain with help from Miz.
CM: As a fan, seeing Team Hell No win would be awesome. The logical choice is to have Harper and Rowan retain to establish them as a dangerous team, but who wouldn't love to see Bryan and Kane leading a Yes chant with the titles in their hands?
Prediction: Harper and Rowan retain.
The Deleters of Worlds vs. B-Team (Raw Tag Titles)
Q: Should WWE acknowledge the familial relationship between Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas or is it better to keep them the way they are? Why?
AM: It would be fun to have a throwaway joke that people don't get unless they were aware of their relationship, but there's nothing to gain out of revealing that the characters are brothers. It would open up a can of worms that would be too hard to explain, and the payoff would just be a few chuckles. Then again, both teams are jokes, so it probably wouldn't matter in the long run, right?
Prediction: If Nakamura and Asuka win their title bouts, Hardy and Wyatt retain. If one of them loses, The B-Team takes the tag titles.
CR: Nope. WWE has flirted with ruining Bray Wyatt's mystique in the past. B-Team has something good going without the affiliation.
Prediction: Hardy and Wyatt win.
KB: There's a story to be told with Dallas and Wyatt as brothers, but the time is not now because they are on different paths. One day, the dynamic could help Dallas get back into a major role when his team with Axel fizzles out.
Prediction: Matt and Wyatt finally overcome all the distractions to defeat The B-Team.
CM: At this point, there is no reason to do it, but it would be great to see them team up someday as brothers. So perhaps when both men are looking for new storylines it would be a better time to make the reveal.
Prediction: The B-Team upsets Hardy and Wyatt to win the titles.
AJ Styles vs. Rusev (WWE Title)
Q: Rusev has always been near the top of the card, but this is his first real shot at being a main event Superstar. Is he ready to be WWE champion? Why or why not?
AM: There's no way he's ready for that role, especially since WWE refuses to turn him babyface. He would be a great candidate to be the next United States champion once he stops being a heel, but he's not WWE Championship material at the moment. Nor should he be the top of the food chain when the fans cheer him as a villain.
Prediction: Styles retains the title.
CR: I think he is, and I don't see how you could go wrong with him while he's white-hot, especially after that silly Jinder Mahal run as champion. But WWE is not going to dethrone the cover boy of the upcoming video game.
Prediction: Styles wins.
KB: The Bulgarian Brute should have been contending for world championships half a year ago. That said, despite his readiness for the spotlight of challenging for the title, I can't see him as WWE champion because of the silly edges of his gimmick, which mean he is not a complete main-event star.
Prediction: Styles takes down Rusev with the Phenomenal Forearm.
CM: He is definitely ready. Rusev is a likable guy with a great gimmick, unmatched athleticism and charisma to spare. If Mahal can be a WWE champion, Rusev can do it too.
Prediction: Styles retains.
What are your predictions for Extreme Rules?