Predicting Most Shocking Moments, Potential Swerves at WWE Extreme Rules 2018
WWE figures to throw some interesting curves at fans during Sunday's Extreme Rules.
After all, the so-called "extreme" card isn't very extreme given the lack of stipulation matches. On one hand, assigning meaningless stipulations rather than letting a storyline naturally play out wouldn't make a ton of sense.
On the other, it is called Extreme Rules.
Either way, the WWE will have to pull off some interesting stunts so bouts from a stacked 11-match card stand out:
- 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 (30-minute 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)
Here is a look at a few shockers and swerves to consider for Sunday night.
Kevin Owens Escapes Braun Strowman
The chicken-esque heel has to get a win at some point.
For Strowman, losing a cage match isn't a big deal. Since WWE doesn't really want Owens to stand up for himself, it wouldn't make sense to have him take a win over one of the company's most prized possessions via pinfall or submission.
The cage could let Strowman take a loss but maintain his credibility. Seeing as he likely (OK, maybe hopefully) will take the title off Brock Lesnar via his briefcase, it's important he remains dominant in the eyes of fans.
At the same time, WWE can't have one of its top heels in Owens taking too many losses. He could be on to year-best feuds with guys like Samoa Joe in no time, so keeping him strong—even if it comes via cowardly ways—remains important.
Besides, who doesn't want to hear K.O. talk about how he beat Strowman for the next six months, irritating anybody he gets in the ring with?
Shinsuke Nakamura Swipes the U.S. Title from Jeff Hardy
At this point, it's a swerve if Nakamura picks up a win, right?
Hardy is a fan favorite, but he's dealing with injuries again. There's a reason he's openly telling reporters he's avoiding the Swanton if it isn't a televised match.
To that end, Nakamura taking the title would make some sense and could serve as a bit of a surprise for fans expecting the good guy to retain the title for a long time.
Granted, it's hard to know where WWE would go next with Nakamura holding the title, but Hardy hasn't exactly made for thrilling television as champion. At least with Nakamura, fans can still get the interesting clash with Styles (get it?) or some other dream feuds.
As a heel champion, Nakamura can help a match's build and a give a big payoff to a babyface at SummerSlam.
With this one, it makes sense for Hardy to miss on some sort of high-risk maneuver and the savvy Nakamura taking advantage.
The Bludgeon Brothers Take Down Team Hell No
One would think WWE will strap rockets on the backs of Team Hell No.
Kane and Daniel Bryan have been the headline act since the surprising reunion, and rightfully so. The former just won a primary election for mayor of Knox County, Tennessee, too, so hoisting him as a good guy with a title right now would make some sense.
But it might be a better idea for WWE to hold off on the crowning of Team Hell No with SummerSlam right around the corner. Or maybe there isn't a crowning at all—finally giving the fans Bryan vs. The Miz seems like something worthy of the SummerSlam stage. So too does Bryan vs. Kane, if the latter turns on his teammate.
The Bludgeon Brothers, Harper and Rowan, need the win here in an iffy tag division. Taking down one of the most memorable teams in modern history will establish some legitimacy and interest, even if The Miz or somebody else interferes to help them get the win.
Roman Reigns Squashes Bobby Lashley
This one might end up being the last match, which would be an odd choice given the titles on display Sunday night.
That is, unless something dramatic and important for future storylines happens.
Whether WWE designed it this way or not, it doesn't seem like Lashley is getting big reactions. His character has been a good guy with a creepy smile, and his mic work is still a hot mess.
If the goal has been to bill Lashley as a viable competitor for Reigns—and therefore Lesnar—it simply hasn't worked outside of his look.
But what if Lashley gets squashed? WWE isn't going to turn Reigns heel for obvious reasons, but Lashley could snap after a crushing loss, prompting a monster run as a bad guy who builds credibility that way.
For those who missed it, some of Lashley's best pro work recently was with Impact as the big bully who simply laughed at "pro wrestlers" due to his MMA background. This match could be an avenue to work him toward that character, which in turn would make him more believable as a threat to Lesnar.
Rusev Takes the WWE Championship from AJ Styles
If Jinder Mahal can do it, why can't Rusev?
And if this match goes on last, it's almost a guarantee something big happens.
That could be an upset win for Rusev, a guy the WWE might finally cash in on. He's got it all and has a red-hot catchphrase. WWE seems intent on keeping him as a heel, so they could turn him loose as the blue brand's final boss and bad guy going into SummerSlam.
Then again, this feud has seemingly taken something of a backseat to Team Hell No's return. And would WWE rip the title off their newly announced WWE 2K19 cover star?
Maybe that's part of the surprise on a massive card where matches need something to stand out.
This could be the peak for Rusev, so an upset title win via some shenanigans would capitalize on the current wave and free up Styles for something different going into one of the biggest pay-per-views of the year.