WWE Extreme Rules 2019: Full Match Card Breakdown, Bold Predictions and More
WWE returns to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Sunday for its 11th annual Extreme Rules pay-per-view.
There was a time when Extreme Rules was touted as the most hardcore night of the year for WWE, but that hasn't been the case in nearly a decade. Instead of every match on the card carrying some sort of stipulation, only three of the advertised 10 matches Sunday will be anything close to "extreme."
Despite that, it's a fairly loaded lineup on paper, with almost every active championship being defended. There is also slated to be a few exciting matches, such as Aleister Black vs. Cesaro and Braun Strowman vs. Bobby Lashley, that are bound to be barn-burners.
WWE's lackluster build to the pay-per-view hasn't left fans overly anticipating this event. Similar to Stomping Grounds, however, the promotion can still exceed expectations by delivering a standout show.
More importantly, it will interesting to see how Extreme Rules lays the groundwork for SummerSlam in August and which feuds will conclude. It's time to break down the card and make bold predictions for what could go down in Philly.
WWE Cruiserweight Champion Drew Gulak vs. Tony Nese
Drew Gulak and Tony Nese have more history than most may realize, making this match at Extreme Rules all the more personal.
It's not just about the WWE Cruiserweight Championship for them. These two started out in 205 Live together and were positioned as partners for the better part of two years. Their friendship eventually faded, but their aspirations of becoming cruiserweight champion caused them to cross paths as opponents before long.
Gulak and Nese have traded victories on countless occasions, including in tournaments for the title they will be fighting for Sunday. At Stomping Grounds, Gulak pinned Akira Tozawa in a Triple Threat match also involving Nese to become the new cruiserweight champion.
Now with the gold in his grasp, Gulak is ready to finally make 205 Live the show he has always wanted it to be but first must defeat Nese at Extreme Rules. There won't be anything extreme about this encounter, and in a straight-up wrestling match, Gulak will always hold the advantage.
As a Philadelphia native, Gulak's chances of victory on this show are pretty high. WWE will occasionally embarrass the hometown hero by having them lose—even when it doesn't make sense—but there is virtually no way that happens here.
Prediction: Gulak retains the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
Raw Tag Team Champions the Revival vs. the Usos
The crowd chant of "fight forever!" may have well been created for The Revival and The Usos, who are destined to do battle until the end of time. You won't get many complaints about that, either, if only because of how exhilarating their matches have been up to this point.
Their feud started out in May as a way for both tandems to prove their superiority over the other, but the stakes were raised when Revival captured the Raw Tag Team Championships on the June 10 edition of Raw. The Usos have been in hot pursuit of the gold ever since and will look to become seven-time tag team champs Sunday.
This match feels like a last-minute addition to the Extreme Rules card and could end up on the Kickoff show. Either way, Revival and The Usos never cease to deliver and will produce a gem of a match whenever they are on the card.
It's unclear whether this rivalry will extend beyond Extreme Rules. Therefore, it doesn't matter much who wins here, as another match at SummerSlam is all but confirmed.
Revival have yet to be given a real run as Raw tag team champions, so to play it safe, let's assume they retain their titles via nefarious means.
Prediction: Revival retain the Raw Tag Team Championships.
Aleister Black vs. Cesaro
Aleister Black had a ton of momentum upon his arrival on the main roster arrival earlier this year. It was encouraging to see him branch off on his own in the 2019 Superstar Shake-up, but the approach WWE has taken with him in recent weeks has been questionable, to say the least.
He's been begging for a fight from anyone on either roster, and on Tuesdays' edition of SmackDown Live, his mysterious "knocker" was revealed to be Cesaro. It's hard to blame those who were disappointed by the reveal because of how random it was, but on the bright side, these two should put on a wrestling clinic.
Needless to say, Black should be kept strong for the foreseeable future on the blue brand. Having him lose in his first major match on pay-per-view would be a mind-boggling booking decision. And as far-fetched as that sounds, WWE has been known to swerve viewers for the sake of swerving them.
In other words, for better or for worse, anything can happen in this company.
Cesaro has been floundering on Raw for months and is also in need of direction. This will be a big opportunity for him to showcase his skills to the world, but Black is more of a priority and must emerge victorious.
After disposing of Cesaro, hopefully Black can set his sights on some championship gold, preferably the Intercontinental Championship. He should get back to what worked so well for him in NXT.
Predictions: Black wins.
SmackDown Tag Team Champions Bryan and Rowan vs. Heavy Machinery vs. New Day
SmackDown Live's tag team scene has been heating up in a big way since Daniel Bryan and Rowan became the SmackDown tag team champions in May. They managed to take a team that few fans cared about in Heavy Machinery and make them one of the more popular acts on the blue brand within a matter of weeks.
Their hotly contested championship clash at Stomping Grounds had a lot to do with that. At Extreme Rules, Heavy Machinery will get another shot at the straps in a Triple Threat tag team match also involving The New Day.
Bryan and Rowan are still relatively early on in their reign as champions, so they should be considered the safe choice to come out on top here. As for New Day, there's no reason for them to regain the gold so soon, and thus they should remain in chase mode for another few months.
Meanwhile, it's do or die time for Heavy Machinery. If they can't capture the gold on this show, they likely never will—or at least not for a long time to come. It would be best for WWE to capitalize on their fanfare by having them take the titles at Extreme Rules.
With it being a three-way tag matchup, neither Bryan nor Rowan would have to be pinned, so in a moment no one will see coming, Heavy Machinery will walk away with the win and the twin titles for the first time in their careers.
Prediction: Heavy Machinery win the SmackDown Tag Team Championships.
Last Man Standing: Braun Strowman vs. Bobby Lashley
As recently as June, there would have been little interest from fans in a Last Man Standing match between Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley at Extreme Rules, especially after their one-on-one outing at Super ShowDown underwhelmed and their wacky confrontations on Raw made for poor television.
That changed when Strowman tackled Lashley through Raw's video wall on the July 1 episode. It resulted in a chaotic scene that left fans wanting more from the two behemoths.
They will get the chance to take their heated rivalry to the next level at Extreme Rules when they wage war in a Last Man Standing match. That means neither man has to be pinned or submitted to lose, which will favor Lashley.
Truth be told, both men would benefit big time from winning this bout. Neither has been lighting the world on fire since WrestleMania 35, but a victory Sunday could go a long way in getting one of them back on track.
If Strowman reigns supreme, there wouldn't be much more for him to do, seeing as how he's already unsuccessfully challenged for the Universal Championship multiple times. With Lashley, there is still untapped potential to build him up as an unstoppable force in the main event scene and as an eventual threat to Brock Lesnar (assuming WWE ever decides to do that dream matchup).
Prediction: Lashley wins.
SmackDown Women's Champion Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross
Handicap matches for championships are rarely ideal, but it makes the most sense in this case considering the story Bayley, Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross have been telling for several months.
It looked like Bayley rid the SmackDown Women's Championship picture of Bliss at Stomping Grounds when she decisively defeated The Goddess. Instead of focusing new challengers, though, she resumed her rivalry with Bliss and Cross. And at Extreme Rules, she'll be at a significant disadvantage.
Best-case scenario, Bayley beats them both for the second straight month and puts this rivalry to rest. That would likely lead to Bliss blaming Cross for costing her the championship and those two feuding on Raw.
Then again, Cross heavily teased on the go-home Raw and SmackDown episodes that she and Bliss could become co-SmackDown Women's champions if they win, which would be an interesting route to take. It wouldn't be quite the same as when LayCool did it nearly a decade ago, not to mention that Bliss and Cross are members of the Raw roster, but it would prolong the program and get Bayley back in chase mode, where she thrives.
There's also the possibility that Cross pins Bayley and is then officially recognized as the sole SmackDown women's champion, especially if Bliss isn't able to compete because of illness. It won't be the most popular outcome, but it feels like the most probable.
Prediction: Bliss and Cross win the SmackDown Women's Championship.
United States Champion Ricochet vs. AJ Styles
Ricochet vs. AJ Styles was probably the last match WWE fans expected to see at Extreme Rules coming out of Stomping Grounds, but it's safe to say everyone is elated to be getting it. Their first-ever one-on-one encounter on the June 24 episode of Raw was nothing short of stellar, and their rematch the following week on Raw was equally entertaining.
The two are tied with one win apiece, and unlike their previous outings, Styles will be walking into the clash at Extreme Rules with a massive chip on his shoulder. He, along with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, brutally attacked Ricochet following his most recent loss to the United States champion and sent the message that he has the star-spangled prize firmly in his sights.
Despite his immense popularity with the fans, the heel turn provides Styles with a refreshing chance of pace. The reunion of The Club also helps him tremendously, though the only thing he needs is a notable win on pay-per-view.
For the betterment of the feud, Styles should unseat Ricochet as champ at Extreme Rules.
Ricochet won't gain much from beating Styles and his sidekicks every week and should be chasing the championship at least until SummerSlam. It can be argued he captured the gold sooner than he should have, and there would be no shame in Ricochet losing to a perennial main event player in The Phenomenal One.
Interference from Gallows and Anderson will be the difference-maker for Styles on Sunday.
Prediction: Styles wins the United States Championship.
WWE Champion Kofi Kingston vs. Samoa Joe
For all the questionable creative calls WWE has made in 2019, it has done an exceptional job of building up Kofi Kingston as a believable WWE champion since WrestleMania season. He has beaten everyone from Daniel Bryan to Kevin Owens to Dolph Ziggler. And at Extreme Rules, he will face his most formidable foe to date in Samoa Joe.
Joe emerged as a threat to the WWE title almost out of nowhere. He randomly ambushed Kingston one night removed from Stomping Grounds, clearly still seething over losing the United States Championship.
That said, this has been an entertaining feud. Joe is easily the best possible person to dethrone Kingston as WWE champion, but chances are he isn't anything more than a filler opponent for the New Day member ahead of SummerSlam.
That raises the question of which Superstar will wind up being the one to relieve Kingston his belt and whether that will happen at SummerSlam. In a perfect world, this contest would conclude in a non-finish to keep their feud alive heading into the August extravaganza, but WWE might have other plans in place for Kingston that don't involve Joe.
The Samoan submission specialist will have a strong showing in defeat and give Kingston another credible victory he can build off of.
Prediction: Kingston retains the WWE Championship.
No Holds Barred: Roman Reigns and Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre
Shane McMahon's reign of terror should have ended at WrestleMania 35, but back-to-back victories over The Miz on pay-per-view led to his becoming a regular on Raw and SmackDown Live. He has done much more to hinder the WWE product than help it.
Drew McIntyre and the McMahon family scion have been a massive thorn in Reigns' side for months. The Big Dog is well aware that he can't move up the pecking order on SmackDown until he gives Shane his comeuppance, and in order to do so, he needed an ally.
Enter The Undertaker.
There isn't much reason for Undertaker's desire to team with Reigns, but if nothing else, The Deadman is a more exciting option than The Miz or Kevin Owens. However, that isn't to say they can't interfere in this No Holds Barred match and get their hands on Shane at long last.
The only positive to seeing Shane's team win again at Extreme Rules would be if McIntyre pinned Undertaker. But otherwise, Taker and Reigns have this one in the bag. Shane may continue to appear on WWE TV following the pay-per-view, but it won't be for much longer.
Prediction: Reigns and Undertaker win.
Winners Take All Extreme Rules: Rollins and Lynch vs. Corbin and Evans
There are almost too many stipulations in this match to count, with it being an Extreme Rules Last Chance Winners Take All mixed tag team match for the Universal and Raw Women's Championships. It's simply a shame all of it is basically for nothing seeing given how few fans care about it.
The Seth Rollins vs. Baron Corbin and Becky Lynch vs. Lacey Evans rivalries should have ended at Stomping Grounds. Dragging both of them out this long has caused fans to not care, so anticipation for this main event at Extreme Rules isn't at an all-time high.
Worse yet, Rollins and Lynch have little chemistry as an on-air pairing. They aren't nearly as hot now as they were around WrestleMania season, but that doesn't mean it's time for either of them to drop their respective titles.
Corbin and Evans would be the wrong choices to take those titles from Rollins and Lynch. Despite how they have been booked over the course of 2019, they have failed to feel like true top talent on the Raw roster, and it's time for all four of them to move on to better things.
Once WWE's resident power couple comes out on top, fingers crossed Bray Wyatt makes an appearance and lays out Rollins to end the evening. That would help lay the groundwork for a marquee matchup for the universal title at SummerSlam.
Prediction: Rollins and Lynch retain the Universal and Raw Women's Championships.
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.