There’s honestly something I really love about WWE calling an annual PPV “Extreme Rules.” Some of you may be too young to remember, but once upon a time in the 1990s, “extreme” was the kind of buzzword brands tacked on to make whatever they were selling feel more radical/tubular/skateboards. The first Extreme Rules event happened in 2009, three years after WWE acquired the rights to Extreme Championship Wrestling and turned it into a sub-brand. (Also a solid decade since “extreme” branding was hip or relevant.) In 2019 they actually have a chance to cash in on some 90s nostalgia with this, but they didn’t. There’s always next year, I guess.
A match held with “extreme rules” is usually some kind of street fight/hardcore/no disqualifications match. An event called Extreme Rules, though, usually means there’s just a whole lot of rules. This Extreme Rules has: one no holds barred match, one 2-on-1 handicap match, one last man standing match, and finally, with the most rules of all, one mixed tag team winner takes all match. Plus a bunch of other things with regular rules.
WWE Extreme Rules streams Sunday at 6 PM Eastern Time on the WWE Network.
Smackdown Tag Team Championship: Daniel Bryan & Rowan (c) vs The New Day (Big E & Xavier Woods) vs Heavy Machinery
After successfully defending the Smackdown Tag Team Championships at Stomping Grounds against Heavy Machinery, Daniel Bryan and Rowan are defending them against Heavy Machinery (again) and the New Day. If you think about it, this is really a battle of ideologies. The New Day sell a lot of merch and make a lot of people happy, but is the positivity and happiness they’re spreading enough to counteract the consumer culture they also encourage? Daniel Bryan and Rowan make a lot of great points about environmental issues, but they’re complete scolds. Not fun to hang out with! Heavy Machinery seem pretty fun to hang out with, but their “blue collar strong” promos seem to be a smokescreen for saying everyone should just work harder. Real strength comes from worker solidarity, guys! I guess they’re in solidarity with each other. It’s a start.
This isn’t the most creative booking, but there are a limited number of main roster teams WWE seems to be willing to use. I’d be psyched to see Big E do his spanking spot on any of the big boys in the match.
Prediction: The New Day win.
Aleister Black vs Cesaro
Aleister Black has been sitting in a dark room talking into a camera on Smackdown Live since April. Here are some cool things he’s said:
- “I can’t even begin to explain the complexity of my tragic character.”
- “For anyone who’s been rejected by those whose acceptance and affirmations should be instinctual, who’ve dealt with the sins of the father and the sins of the mother, the marks they’ve left upon us and the marks that we’ve left upon ourselves, I arrogantly sit before you as both your wrath and your salvation.”
- “THE DOOR!! IS WIDE!!! OPEN!!”
Basically, he’s been sitting in there for three months trying to get someone to challenge him to a wrestling match. This week on Smackdown, Cesaro answered the challenge! Aleister Black finally gets to go outside! I poke a lot of fun at Aleister Black, but when he’s good, he’s very, very good. Cesaro feels so effortlessly talented that it’s easy to forget what he’s capable of. This could end up being something pretty cool.
Prediction: Cesaro wrestled No Way Jose on Raw this week. He needs the win. I need him to win this. He deserves to win. Cesaro.
Cruiserweight Championship: Drew Gulak (c) vs Tony Nese
Drew Gulak became Cruiserweight Champion at last month’s Stomping Grounds in a triple threat match against then-champion Tony Nese and Akira Tozawa. The thing is: Gulak technically beat Tozawa. So, while he won according to the rules, Nese doesn’t feel like he was properly defeated for the championship he won at Wrestlemania. Gulak and Nese have been at odds ever since Gulak turned on his long time friend back in 2018. It was extremely sad! (For more on their history, check out this great blog post about Gulak’s championship win.)
I loved that Stomping Grounds match and have no doubts I will love this match. I enjoy Gulak and Nese when they’re just having a good match without a ton of emotional baggage attached to it, but with their history? I’m expecting fireworks.
Prediction: Drew Gulak retains.
No Holds Barred: The Undertaker & Roman Reigns vs Shane McMahon & Drew McIntyre
There’s a lot of negativity out there about the Undertaker and Roman Reigns teaming up against Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre for this no holds barred match. Still, I think we can all agree that these are four men who exist and one of them wears a hat. Remember when American Horror Story: Coven made the Undertaker hat the trendy thing for like six months? That was fun. I could have been into that being the look for a little while longer.
On Smackdown this week, Elias said he’s working on a cool funeral song for the Undertaker, so we can look forward to listening to that while a broken 54 year old wrestler makes his painful way to the ring. No holds barred pretty much just means no disqualification, so uh… I can’t imagine they’re going to be using kendo sticks or chairs… Maybe they’ll just hit each other in the balls the whole time. That would be pretty sweet.
Prediction: Roman Reigns and the Undertaker win, or there’s some kind of messed up finish and this has to keep going on even longer.
Raw Tag Team Championship: The Revival (c) vs The Usos
We sacrificed so much to get to this point: our time, our dignity, our intelligence, our self-respect. And now we are here. Raw Tag Team Champions the Revival are defending their titles against the Usos. No interruptions, no weird rules, no extra guys, just two of the best tag teams on the planet having a great wrestling match on a C-tier WWE PPV.
Prediction: The Revival retain.
United States Championship: Ricochet (c) vs AJ Styles
AJ Styles turned heel after unsuccessfully challenging Ricochet for the US Championship two weeks ago. Now he’s getting another shot because he’s AJ Styles. Ricochet and AJ Styles in a singles match in front of a rowdy Philadelphia crowd? If this doesn’t slap, there may be no hope for WWE. I’m pretty sure it’ll be absurdly athletic and fun, with at least one “this is awesome” chant.
As of Friday night, this has only been announced as a regular rules match, so interference by Styles’ boys in the Club would be against the rules. But referees turn their backs all the time…
Prediction: AJ Styles wins with the help of Gallows & Anderson.
2-on-1 Handicap Smackdown Women’s Championship: Bayley (c) vs Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross
Alexa Bliss’ newest bestie and fellow short king Nikki Cross picked the 2-on-1 handicap stipulation after winning a beat the clock challenge against Bayley on Raw this week. If she or Bliss is able to pin the champ, Cross maintains they will become co-champions. Will Bayley be able to fend off these two pint sized punks? Will Cross and Bliss share the championship amicably? Or will they win and then fight over it? I have no answers, except that I’m pretty sure this will be a fun time to watch. I loved Bayley’s match with Alexa Bliss at Stomping Grounds and had a great time watching her wrestle Nikki Cross on Smackdown in June.
Prediction: Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross win.
Last Man Standing: Bobby Lashley vs Braun Strowman
Bobby Lashley and Braun Strowman, two of WWE’s Biggest Boys, have been fighting for the last month or so about which one of them is bigger and stronger. They did some arm wrestling (ugh), a tug of war contest (UGH), and finally a falls count anywhere match where they smashed through a panel of LEDs and got taken away in an ambulance (YEAH!) On Sunday’s Extreme Rules they’re having a last man standing match. The rules for a last man standing match are pretty straightforward. The competitors go at it for however long it takes for one of them to knock the other one down such that they can’t get up before the referee has counted to ten. The person on the floor loses. The person standing up wins.
Last man standing matches can be great. Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair had a killer one at the all-women Evolution PPV just last year. I’ve never been too hot on Bobby Lashley as an in-ring performer. (He has a very surprising type of unassuming charm when he’s just being a regular man though.) When Braun Strowman is fun, he’s very fun. When he’s not, well, at least he’s still very large. If they’re able to get that same energy they had when they exploded through some lights, this could be a real treat.
Prediction: Braun Strowman wins.
WWE Championship: Kofi Kingston (c) vs Samoa Joe
One of the best things about C-tier events is that some of my favorite dudes get big matches. WWE isn’t going to give Samoa Joe a WWE Championship match at a Summerslam or even a Money in the Bank. But Extreme Rules? Go for it Joe! Does Samoa Joe, one of the greatest of all time, deserve better? Probably. But I’ll take what I can get. And if what I can get is Samoa Joe challenging the impossibly likable, supremely athletic, irrepressibly good-of-heart Kofi Kingston for one of the company’s top titles? No complaints here. Kingston is a perfect good guy and Samoa Joe is a perfect bad guy. Go have a great match guys!
Prediction: Kofi Kingston retains. Sorry Joe.
Raw Women’s Championship & Universal Championship Winner Takes All Mixed Tag Team Match: Becky Lynch (c) & Seth Rollins (c) vs Baron Corbin & Lacey Evans
Remember how at Stomping Grounds last month Becky Lynch defended the Raw Women’s Championship against Lacey Evans? And how at Money in the Bank two months ago she defended the Raw Women’s Championship against Lacey Evans? Guess what she’s doing this month! It’s defending the Raw Women’s Championship against Lacey Evans again. Seth Rollins, on the other hand, defended the Universal Championship against Baron Corbin last month at Stomping Grounds. Earlier that month (at the Blood Money Spectacular we don’t talk about) he also defended the Universal Championship against Baron Corbin.
Why give Becky and Seth different opponents when you can give them the same opponents a third time all together in one big match? Now that’s what I call extreme! In this, the rulesiest of all the Extreme Rules matches, Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins will defend their championships against Baron Corbin and Lacey Evans in a mixed tag match. A mixed tag match is when there’s a man and a woman on each team, but the men only wrestle each other and the women also only wrestle each other. Here, the winning team will win both the Raw Women’s Championship and the Universal Championship. If Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins win, they will never have to wrestle Lacey Evans and Baron Corbin again.
Prediction: Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins retain. I’m not actually terribly confident about this. But I am praying.