Friday, May 20, 2016

Previewing Extreme Rules 2016

Image credit: WWE. 
I’m still not quite sure what to make of this year’s Extreme Rules card. While this is the ‘new era’ of WWE, the card feels even less “extreme” than previous years. But the ongoing feuds offer some great match potential along with a few intriguing storylines.

The pre-show gives us Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin for the second month in a row, this time in a no disqualification match. (If you’re wondering how this is different than the Extreme Rules main event, the answer is they’re not at all different in modern WWE.) This feud still makes little sense to me as an ongoing storyline. Ziggler should be at a higher level than Ziggler, but Corbin should be winning if the company wants to establish him as a main roster star.

As an aside, this is the second month since his debut Apollo Crews doesn’t appear on pay-per-view. Dude has too many skills to not be used in a stronger feature.

The New Day and The Vaudevillains will finally face off for the tag team titles in a… standard tag match. Fail, WWE. While The New Day will have the man advantage, it seems like the time for them to drop the titles. A win here would be huge for The Vaudevillains and establish them as solid main roster stars. In my opinion, it’s time for The New Day to focus on singles feuds, although I think they should remain as a unit at least for now, not unlike how The Shield worked for part of the run.

Kalisto defends his United States title against another League of Nations member this month in Rusev. And while he put on some good David versus Goliath matches against Ryback, I have doubts he holds on to his title at Extreme Rules. The setup of the match and John Cena’s imminent return make another United States title reign by Cena seem likely, once again defeating Rusev for the belt.

Charlotte and Natalya wrestle in a submissions match, something I suspect we will see more of in the women’s division. With pretty much every woman on the roster having a submission, it just makes sense for these stipulations to appear on the card. With Ric Flair banned from ringside, this is a make or break moment for Charlotte. But I just can’t see Natalya holding the title now, even if it’s for only a short while. It seems likely to me Charlotte will pull the win out without her father, perhaps setting up a separation between the Flairs.

Cageside Seats provided this perfect screenshot of the Asylum structure.
The first ever Asylum match takes place at Extreme Rules as Dean Ambrose gets a chance to use some weapons in his feud with Chris Jericho. The gimmick sounds a bit like a singles version of TNA’s Lethal Lockdown match, but I suspect Ambrose and Jericho have the talent to make it work in WWE. Whether this will tie up their series or if it will serve as a swansong to Jericho’s current run is up in the air, but it’s hard to pick anyone but Ambrose to win the match he created.

The match that should steal the show at Extreme Rules again has no extreme stipulations, but the fatal four-way Intercontinental title match has too much talent to need it. Kevin Owens, Cesaro and Sami Zayn are some of the best wrestlers in the world while The Miz with Maryse serves as the perfect smarmy heel to work against them. Since Wrestlemania, The Miz has pulled himself out of a dull rut and he showed in the past month he can more than hang with the three indie veterans. This could be a match of the year contender if given time and it doesn’t really matter who wins, as anyone of these four men deserve a solid reign with the title.

The main event between Roman Reigns and AJ Styles in an Extreme Rules match seems ripe for storyline shenanigans again. While The Usos and The Club face off in a throwaway tornado tag team match earlier on the broadcast, both teams are certain to interfere when the rules are thrown out. But I suspect the match will also see the return of one former Authority member, whether that be Triple H or Seth Rollins. And I wouldn’t have said it two months ago, but I could honestly see WWE put the belt on Styles here. It probably won’t happen, but moving the belt to Styles for even a month makes Reigns look vulnerable against the smaller Rollins.

I have little doubt we will see great matches at Extreme Rules, but I also hopes it follows in the footsteps of Payback by reestablishing the pay-per-views as something where anything can and will happen. WWE needs that kind of energy as they move into their new era.

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