Another WWE co-branded event hits this Sunday, as WWE brings this year’s edition of Extreme Rules to the WWE Universe, airing live on the WWE Network. Here’s a quick rundown of this Sunday’s card.
Tables Match: The New Day (Big E, Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston) vs. SaNiTY (Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe & Killian Dain)
The Extreme Rules Kickoff Show match is a 6-man featuring the full New Day unit facing the recently debuted SaNiTY trio of Eric Young, Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe. Lots of room for all three to showcase their abilities, plus some unique showdowns – seeing the power of two hosses like Big E and Killian Dain going head to head could be fun. New Day seem on the verge of pursuing singles action with more frequency – particularly Big E – and a win for SaNiTY would go a long way in helping give the new stable some traction within the WWE Universe. With Nikki Cross joining the Smackdown Live roster on the road this week, could we see the Angry Scot make an appearance to help her NXT teammates?
Finn Balor vs. “Constable” Baron Corbin
Since becoming Stephanie McMahon‘s handpicked “Constable” of Raw, Baron Corbin has gained more screen time, but so far he’s been a lot of hot air. One of the men taking issues with his power trips is Finn Balor, whose now facing the new Sheriff in Town this Sunday in singles action. Storyline is still vague on this one and it feels like more of a filler between feuds (like most of Balor’s “feuds” of late), but Balor needs the win more than Corbin in order to keep afloat in the upper midcard.
Raw Tag Team Championship: The Deleters of Worlds (“Woken” Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt) vs. The B-Team (Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel)
The B-Team have developed quite the cult following since becoming #1 contenders for the Raw Tag Team titles, gaining the fan support through their comedic cosplay vignettes. They’ve been on quite the winning streak the past couple months and now it’s all on the line for the gold this Sunday. The B-Team could definitely use the win to officially be taken seriously, but chances are they’re just another notch on the bedpost of the ExpeDEEESHUN of Gold.
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Carmella (c) vs. Asuka (w/ James Ellsworth in a Shark Cage)
Asuka‘s main roster run since being one of the most dominant champions in WWE history while in NXT has been somewhat underwhelming, especially since her streak was ended by Charlotte Flair. She’s locked in a main event feud for the Smackdown Women’s title, but so far she’s been more of a foil for the returning James Ellsworth than a threat to Carmella’s championship. Ellsworth is locked in a shark cage, suspended above the ring, to avoid interference, but considering the track record of shark cages in pro wrestling history, it’s a fair bet that Ellsworth finds some way to interfere from up there. Asuka needs the win in this encounter, but sadly it may come in the form of a disqualification victory, with Carmella still walking away as Champion.
Raw Women’s Championship, Extreme Rules Match: Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Nia Jax
Nia Jax gets her obligatory rematch for the title she lost at Money In The Bank last month, but it feels like she’s now just a pawn in the larger game of Bliss versus the “suspended” Ronda Rousey (who will be sitting ringside as a “spectator”). Jax has even been tagging with Rousey’s pal Natalya of late and showing Rousey respect, so it appears their feud is over. Expect Rousey to get involved and by hook or by crook, Bliss will still walk away as Raw Women’s Champion.
United States Championship: Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
The Dream Match That Kept On Giving (AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura) is finally over, and Nakamura has now set his sights on Jeff Hardy‘s US championship instead. Although this feud is still early, fans are chomping at the bit for the King of Strong Style to claim WWE gold on the main roster. If given the time, these two should have an exciting match with solid storytelling, but in the end, Vince McMahon will get his “evil foreign heel” US Champion, and Shinsuke Nakamura will leave the arena as the new US Champ.
Intercontinental Championship, 30-Minute Iron Man Match: Dolph Ziggler (c) (w/ Drew McIntyre) vs. Seth Rollins
The unlikely pairing of Dolph Ziggler with Drew McIntyre has been one of Raw‘s few bright spots of late, with both men dominating in tag team and singles action. Seth Rollins is once again looking to reclaim the Intercontinental title he lost via open challenge a few weeks back, but the Scottish Terminator Drew McIntyre will be circling the ring like a shark smelling blood in the water. While many reports have stated Dean Ambrose is still a month away from returning to in-ring action, it may be one of WWE’s decoy leaks. He may not be reading for full in-ring action, but a surprise return to help even the odds for his Shield brother would be just the kind of shot in the arm the red brand needs. It would also extend this feud with the potential for some big match-ups further down the road. Ambrose may help nullify McIntyre to a degree, but expect Ziggler to remain champ as the duo continues to reign on Raw.
Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The Bludgeon Brothers (Luke Harper & Erick Rowan) (c) vs. Team Hell No (Daniel Bryan & Kane)
Daniel Bryan is on “This Is Your Life” run, quickly touching on past WWE highlights. He’s interacted with The Miz and now he’s reunited with Kane in Team Hell No, his tag partner that held the WWE Tag Team titles for 245 days in 2012. The reunion is probably short lived and with The Miz not scheduled for a match, he could become a distraction for Daniel Bryan costing them the victory. Team Hell No is probably destined for a break down before Bryan goes on to another singles feud, so expect the Bludgeon Brothers to get the win and remain Smackdown tag team champs.
Steel Cage Match: Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens
Something smells fishy with this one. For weeks, poor Kevin Owens has been trying to be the better man, but he’s being stalked by a Monster Amongst Men, terrorized, vandalized, and thrown around in a port-a-potty. This has lead to this confrontation, locked inside a steel cage, where Owens will have nowhere to run from These Hands. A bloody beatdown at the hands of Braun Strowman seems too obvious, but Owens’ normal sidekick, Sami Zayn, is out following surgery. Could Owens find a new mystery ally in his battle with the Monster?
Roman Reigns vs. Bobby Lashley
After a strange feud with Sami Zayn upon his WWE return, Bobby Lashley now finds himself face to face with WWE’s Big Dog in what has been a physical affair so far. Strangely, Lashley has been booked as the face in this feud, as a physical specimen being bullied by an insecure Roman Reigns who feels challenged by another big man in his Yard. Reports surfaced yesterday that Paul Heyman appears to be helping with this storyline, so perhaps the WWE has finally reached out to the former Smackdown and ECW writer to help transition Reigns to being a heel, but who knows when it comes to the WWE and Roman Reigns. Lashley needs the win more than Reigns, and a loss would help add to the insecurity of Reigns if going down a darker path is the road being traveled.
WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles (c) vs. Rusev (w/ Aiden English)
Arguably the most over talent on Smackdown Live the past year has been Rusev and his infectious “Rusev Day” gimmick, and for the first time in his WWE main roster career, he’s in a singles match for the WWE Championship. AJ Styles can work with anyone and this should be a great match for Rusev to go full tilt in. With AJ now the cover star for WWE 2K19, a title drop at this stage feels unlikely, but even a short reign for Rusev would be good business. If he doesn’t win, it could be due to interference with Aiden English, which could put their split rolling with Rusev ultimately turning full face.