WWE's 2020 Extreme Rules pay-per-view promises to be one of the most intriguing events of the year.
While it's stuck as a smaller shows on the calendar before the much bigger SummerSlam, Extreme Rules has a fun moniker this year—The Horror Show at Extreme Rules—and has some big stakes at play nonetheless. Including, but not limited to, titles and eyeballs.
- Apollo Crews vs. MVP (WWE Championship match)
- Rey Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins (Eye for an Eye match)
- Bayley vs. Nikki Cross (SmackDown Women's Championship match)
- Asuka vs. Sasha Banks (Raw Women's Championship match)
- Drew McIntyre vs. Dolph Ziggler (WWE Championship match)
- Braun Strowman vs. Bray Wyatt (Wyatt Swamp Fight, non-title match)
Randy Orton is the SummerSlam Final Boss
This one shouldn't come as too much of a shocker: WWE still has plans to use Randy Orton as the top heel for Drew McIntyre at SummerSlam.
According to WrestleTalk's Louis Dangoor and TalkSport's Alex McCarthy (h/t Randall Ortman, Cageside Seats), The Viper wanted to work with top NXT talent such as Adam Cole but will instead be the challenger to McIntyre.
And it's not too hard to see why. The Scot has blown through any and all competition, even putting on great matches with the likes of Bobby Lashley. This current feud with Dolph Ziggler, which smartly wraps in some history between the two, is quality but always felt like filler and will reach a natural conclusion soon enough. That's just how it seems to go with The Showoff these days.
As for Orton, he's been arguably the hottest Superstar on the planet in any promotion this year thanks to his creepy-good heel work during his feud with Edge. While The Rated-R Superstar remains sidelined with an injury, it only makes sense WWE utilizes The Viper's amazing work at the very top of the card at what is arguably the second-biggest event of the year.
This is WWE, though, and plans can change hours before a show. But right now, the company's anointed long-term plan and current champion against the company's top heel should have viewers attached to screens for the summer, even if it means the Extreme Rules match is a predictable one.
WWE Aims to Loop in Some Actual Horror
WWE has struck gold with its pre-taped cinematic matches as a response to audience-less shows this year.
Superstars like The Undertaker have seen career revivals as a result, while guys like John Cena have been able to pop in and put on classics, too.
It sounds like the company hopes to keep batting 1,000 in this area with the upcoming "Eye for an Eye match" between Seth Rollins and Rey Mysterio.
According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Wrestling Inc's Robert Gunier), this will be a pre-taped match in which the company could use CGI to have a Superstar lose an eye.
Sounds silly—and it is. But these pre-taped matches have expertly walked the tightrope between ridiculous, funny and serious. At worst, the match will feature can't-look-away silliness that results in a star wearing an eye patch for a while before everyone forgets about the whole thing—AJ Styles got buried alive by 'Taker at WrestleMania 36 and popped back up randomly at a later date and that didn't diminish the entertainment value of the match itself.
Rollins and Mysterio are two guys who boast show-stealing potential on any night of the week as it is, so pairing their talents with the superb production values of these cinematic matches promises good things.
As always, the specter of SummerSlam has a big impact on Extreme Rules.
Presumably, WWE would like to hit the 8-10 match mark for Sunday's pay-per-view and officially has just six cemented right now. But based on history and how things look right now on the weekly programming, fans should expect some of the big-ticket items to be put on hold for a later date.
According to Meltzer (h/t Paul Davis of WrestlingNews.co), the current SummerSlam card includes Styles against Matt Riddle for the intercontinental title, The New Day against Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro for the SmackDown tag titles and Street Profits against Andrade and Angel Garza for the Raw tag titles.
This means it might be unwise to expect any of those Superstars to feature prominently in the week leading to Extreme Rules or on Sunday's card itself.
So goes the nature of the business, especially when a smaller show like this is a stepping stone to something so much bigger. It wouldn't make a ton of sense to abruptly resolve things between Styles and Riddle or both tag feuds ahead of the big event.
WWE had originally planned for SummerSlam to take place in front of a live crowd in Boston but according to Mike Johnson of PWInsider.com, that's been scrapped and like recent events, the August 23 spectacle will go down at the Performance Center in Florida.
Regardless of venue, WWE was always going to push some of its biggest longstanding feuds to its second-biggest event of the year.