The promised land of Summerslam is just beyond the horizon, I can almost feel it’s warm glow, but first, we’ve got to make a stop off at Extreme Rules, a card that I’m not really sure what to make of. There are plenty of matches that have the promise to be great, but there is also a lot of the treading water that we saw from Stomping Grounds.
Ultimately I’m not going to make a call on how I think this show will be remembered because it really could go either way. It wouldn’t surprise me if we were talking about the worst PPV of the year come Monday, but it also would be surprising if we’re all pleasantly surprised like we were for Stomping Grounds.
What I can call, however, are the results of the matches, so let’s do that instead.
The Revival(c) vs The Usos
(Raw Tag Team Championships)
I can’t believe myself.
I should be so excited about this match, it’s my favourite tag team against the best tag team and I just don’t care. The Raw tag team division has been non-existent for so long now that I can’t bear to have any optimism towards it anymore, it does have the upside of keeping the Cruiserweights off of the pre-show, but it means that I’m not even vaguely invested in some of the best talent in WWE right now.
I hope this match will be good and it has all the potential to, but I don’t think it’s going to be given the time to breathe that it really needs to be a great match. Not to mention The Revival have been treated as such a joke when it comes to the main roster that this could very well end up being a squash match.
Either way, The Usos need to win this one, because that is the only chance the Raw tag division has of being pulled out of this rutt it’s been in for all of 2019, if The Revival retain, as much as I love them, it’ll be another month of the titles barely being on TV and probably not on Summerslam at all, at least they have a chance of doing some good around The Uso’s waists.
Drew Gulak(c) vs Tony Nese
Please, just let them be on the main show for once.
I feel like I say this every month (because I do), but it really is true that these guys are putting on matches twice as good as almost everyone who makes the main card and they deserve the spotlight. I don’t understand how you can expect 205 Live’s ratings to improve when you refuse to put them in front of audiences when they’re actually watching.
Regardless, Gulak has been great so far as Cruiserweight Champion. The Cruiserweight title is one of those titles that always seems to do way better around the waist of a heel than a face and Drew is probably the best character on the whole show right now. Conversely, Tony Nese is someone who always does much better chasing the title than holding it, so this is a much better position for him to be in going into this match.
As such, a one on one match between these two should be something great to watch, no matter when it goes on because these guys are at the peak of their performances as characters. There must be a winner though and I feel confident in saying that winner will be Drew Gulak, I can’t see how it would be to anyone’s benefit to hotshot the title back onto Nese right now, especially with people like Akira Tozowa and Oney Lorcan nipping at Drew’s heels for the coming months.
Daniel Bryan & Rowan(c) vs The New Day vs Heavy Machinery
(Smackdown Tag Team Championships)
In this week’s episode of Daniel Bryan vs The World…
As much as Big E & Xavier Woods have been doing great as the backup to WWE Champion Kofi Kingston so far this year, I think that giving them something of their own to do again was a great move, since there was the risk of both men fading too far into the background in the wake of Kofi’s title win. Heavy Machinery also made a big impact with their match at Stomping Grounds, even if the crowd turned on them in favour of their hometown boy, so keeping them in the scene like this is another good move, otherwise, all of their momentum would’ve been squandered.
I have high hopes that this match will be great, New Day are at their best when big tag team matches like this descend into chaos and they can do all of their crazy spots, meanwhile you’ve got big guys like Otis and Rowan there for the high impact stuff to really shock the crowd and then there’s Daniel Bryan, who I’ve sung the praises of enough in these articles for you to know he’ll make this match rock.
I’m actually struggling to pick a winner as well because I’m honestly not sure. Heavy Machinery winning the tag titles seems like the next logical step for their accent in the tag team scene, while I can also see all three members of The New Day holding titles all at the same time. I’m going to stick to my guns for now though and say Daniel Bryan & Rowan will retain, hopefully leading to them vs New Day 2 on 2 at Summerslam in a fantastic match.
Aleister Black vs Cesaro
I’ve talked about how great I think Aleister Black is many times before, so as you can imagine I’m very excited to see him in a singles match on a PPV at last, even if it probably won’t be very long.
Cesaro is the absolutely perfect opponent for Black, their in-ring styles matchup so perfectly that I think these two could put on one of the greatest matches we’ve ever seen if the show was called Takeover. As it stands it’s not and I imagine this match will be quite short as a result. Cesaro isn’t very high on the pecking order at the moment, so I think it’s important to give Black a reasonably quick win over him here, then they can go on and have a 15-minute classic at Summerslam instead.
Regardless of the length of the match, Aleister Black most certainly winning this one, then we can finally get on with making this dude a world champion.
Ricochet(c) vs AJ Styles
(United States Championship)
AJ Styles is a heel now because if there’s one thing Raw needed more of, it was heels at the top of the card.
That said, I do prefer heel AJ Styles to any other AJ Styles and the character really needed a shakeup after his far too long title reign last year made us all bored of him, it just might not be the best for the product overall.
That aside, I don’t think anyone would argue with me when I say that this match will be great. Even if it does have a non-finish (which seems likely), I have faith that these two will put on a fantastic match leading up until that point. Styles is great at making the slower, more technical pace of a heel very entertaining to watch and I think it’ll contrast fantastically with Ricochet trying to burst out and flip until he can’t flip no more.
As I mentioned though, I don’t think this match is going to have a clean finish because there’s a lot of conflicting factors coming into this one. You’ve got the brand new United States Champion Ricochet, who can’t lose his title in his second defence, then you’ve got a freshly heel-turned Styles who would have all this newfound momentum taken out from under him if he loses; and they’ve already used up the “surprise roll-up” face win on Raw, so we won’t be seeing it again. It’s a tough one to pick and I think I’m going to regret this pick the closer it gets to the show, but I think Ricochet is going to come away with the win, probably by disqualification when The Club gets involved or something.
Braun Strowman vs Bobby Lashley
(Last Man Standing)
This match could very well end with one of these guys dying.
Under any other circumstances, I wouldn’t care about this match in the slightest, Strowman’s great, but Lashley isn’t a very good fit of an opponent for him, we’ve seen many times that guys equal to Strowman’s size aren’t great opponents for him. However, the combination of the stage explosion on Raw and the addition of the Last Man Standing stipulation have drawn me in.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure this match will be just as slow as any other match between these two guys, but if they keep the attitude of the stage explosion spot going, then the sheer spectacle of what these two do in this match could completely overshadow the boring in-between bits. That said, if this just ends up being a standard Last Man Standing match, then it’s gonna be boring as piss.
I don’t know who the winner will be either, because ultimately, it doesn’t matter. It’s not like either of these guys is going to be fighting for the Universal title at Summerslam, so there’s not a lot to gain for the winner. I’m going to go with Braun Strowman because WWE doesn’t seem to care very much about how many losses they feed Bobby Lashley and Strowman desperately needs something important to do.
Bayley(c) vs Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)
(2 on 1 Handicap)
Well, this just got a whole lot more interesting.
All of the stuff with Nikki and Alexa over the past few months has been great to watch, it’s made Alexa seem like a master manipulator, pulling Nikki in like this, but it doesn’t do it at Nikki’s expense because when she’s challenged by other people, she stands up for herself. I don’t get the impression that Nikki’s going along with Alexa just because she’s too thick to see the forest through the trees, but because in her experiences, Alexa is the only person to actually show Nikki any decency.
That said, the turn is coming like a freight train, but I’m not sure who’s turning on who. It makes the most sense for Nikki to cost Alexa the match here and Alexa will lose her shit about it, but I personally think a slow burn would be a bit more interesting. A scenario where Alexa loses the match but blames Nikki anyway would be a lot more interesting, or even Nikki pinning Bayley to win the title and Alexa takes all the credit.
This match is very much going to be focused on the story between Nikki and Alexa and while it could benefit the match, I feel more like it’ll be to its detriment, I’m not sure though. Speaking of not sure, I’ve got to pick a winner and I’m going to go with Bayley. As much as I think Alexa & Nikki winning the title would be interesting, Bayley needs to hold onto that title at least another month because her title reign is in danger of going down the same route as her previous one, which is not a good thing. Bring Sasha Banks out to beat the piss out of Bayley after the match, that’ll fix things.
The Undertaker & Roman Reigns vs Shane McMahon & Drew Mcintyre
(No Holds Barred)
Alright, hands up, who saw this one coming? If you just put your hand up, you’re a liar.
After Super Show Down, I didn’t think we were going to see The Undertaker again for quite a while, so I was very surprised indeed when he showed up on Raw to take out Shane McMahon and Drew Mcintyre, the only problem is, we still haven’t’ really been told why. He’s proclaimed some vague bollocks about wanting Shane’s soul and how Shane’s ego has cost him his soul or something like that, but why wait until now? And why team up with Roman Reigns? There’s no much about this that doesn’t make sense.
Originally I thought this was going to lead to some sort of Roman vs Taker rematch for Summerslam, but if every news site and dirt sheet under the sun is to be believed, we’re actually moving towards Taker vs Drew instead, which I’m very much in favour of.
I’m really not sure how good this match will be, Undertaker will definitely benefit from having to carry most of the match and I imagine a lot of it will be Shane and Drew wearing Roman down before he can make the hot tag to Taker and I don’t think that’s going to be particularly entertaining. With any luck, around the halfway point, this thing will devolve into chaos, since that tends to be when tag team matches are at their most entertaining, especially in a weapons match. That said, none of these guys are good at working fast paced matches, and a slow, plodding weapons match will be just awful.
I’m not sure who to pick as the winner though. On the one hand, how could they justify a Drew vs Taker match with Roman and Taker win here, but also I refuse to allow Shane McMahon to have a win over The fucking Undertaker. I’m gonna go with The Undertaker & Roman Reigns but I’m not all that confident about it and Shane needs to be the one to take the pin.
Kofi Kingston(c) vs Samoa Joe
Well, now I’m conflicted…
I’m really struggling with who I want to win this match. On the one hand, I’ve loved Kofi’s reign as WWE Champion and it’s been really refreshing to have a face champion that doesn’t get the shit kicked out of him every single week, but on the other hand, Samoa Joe. I’ve wanted Joe to be WWE Champion for ages and this seems like the best opportunity we’re ever going to get, but I’m not sure I can see it happening.
Joe’s been great since starting this feud, as he always is when he’s chasing a title. That power hungry, destroyer character is always the best for Samoa Joe and for some reason chasing a major title always brings that out of him. I’m sure this match will be great too, we all know Joe can work with smaller guys fantastically, his match with Ricochet at Stomping Grounds proved that (if you weren’t already convinced). I also think this will benefit from not being a weapons match since I think both of these two guys work better with a technical style.
I’m really torn on a winner though, this feels like the first time in Kofi’s reign where I can actually see him losing the title, but I’m not sure they’d pull a title change on a B-Show so close to Summerslam, but at the same time I’m not sure if this is a multi-month feud, this could quite easily be a one and done thing for Joe and if that’s the case then he’s definitely not winning the title. I’m going to play it safe for now and say Kofi Kingston using the logic that if the title is going to change hands, it’ll happen at Summerslam, but I’m not confident in the slightest.
Seth Rollins(c) & Becky Lynch(c) vs Baron Corbin & Lacey Evans
(Raw Women’s Championship)
Yes, more Baron Corbin and Lacey Evans title matches, that’ll show those Bucks.
I mean, what can I say about this feud that I haven’t already said a thousand times before over the past few months? Lacey’s getting there, but is still way too green for the spot she’s in, I still don’t like Baron Corbin, and Seth & Becky are definitely going to retain. I’ve honestly not been a fan of this pair being so forced together on TV lately because I really get the impression from them that they’d rather not be doing it. We also get stuff like that interview segment from two weeks ago, where these two people who clearly have some sort of off-screen chemistry (since, you know, they’re in a relationship) were given some of the most forced, fake chemistry type of dialogue I’ve seen on WWE TV in a long time.
The match itself could go either way, like I said about the other No DQ tag match, if it descends into chaos early on and keeps up that pace it’ll be great and these guys have a better chance of pulling that off than the guys in the other tag match. I just don’t have much faith in that actually happening, my hatred for weapons matches is well known and I really think this is going be another slow paced match where about 5 minutes are spent setting a spot up, only for them to immediately move onto the next one. I’m holding onto the small amount of hope that it could be good though…I think.
As for a winner, there’s no question Seth Rollins & Becky Lynch retaining is easily the lock of the night. In a time like this where it’s crucial that WWE remains competitive, putting the titles on Corbin & Lacey would be the equivalent of WCW putting the title on Arquette and Russo in the year 2000, it’d be such a stupid move, and WWE isn’t that stupid.
Anyway, those are my predictions for Extreme Rules 2019! Thank you very much for reading, let me know what you think is going to happen either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Make sure to come back here early next week for my review of the show!