This Sunday sees WWE's most extreme night of the year, Extreme Rules take place as the Raw brand competes on their latest brand exclusive PPV. The show is certainly stacked with matches, and whilst the majority of them are ones fans have seen several times before with the added stipulations it should be a good night of wrestling with everyone looking to impress as people begin to think about SummerSlam.
Rich Swann & Sasha Banks vs Noam Dar & Alicia Fox
Joel Lampkin: Rich Swann was very underwhelming as Cruiserweight Champion but his character and personality helped him become a popular figure on 205 Live. Noam Dar’s storyline with Alicia Fox has helped keep the silliness of professional wrestling alive but done little to help the Scotsman’s legitimacy, meanwhile, Alicia Fox is presented as slightly crazy yet never allowed to integrate with the rest of the roster. She has a great move set and if given time could become a popular star. Sasha Banks’ arrival into this match is confusing, yet entirely interesting, the Boss has been one of the most popular women of the past decade and is a future Hall of Famer, if her ‘dropping down’ to the Cruiserweights’ level helps give her a PPV spot and helps the match’s star power; then it is all positive, even if the winner does not really matter.
Prediction: Noam Dar & Alicia Fox
Matthew Wilkinson: WWE's attempt to try and make 205 Live and the cruiserweights more important has seen Sasha Banks be thrown into the mix, but in the end, it has only hurt her more than help the division. That being said, it has been good to see other superstars get involved with the cruiserweights and WWE should use this method to introduce talents like Enzo Amore and Kalisto into the division and bridge the gap between the Raw roster and the 205 Live roster, which will benefit everyone. When it comes to this match the decision could go either way and this writer is surprised it hasn't been put on the Kick-Off show as fans really aren't invested in this story, but for the sake of The Boss she should pick up the win here.
Prediction: Sasha Banks & Rich Swann
Tag Team Championship Steel Cage Match- The Hardy's (c) vs Sheamus & Cesaro
Joel Lampkin: Team Extreme on an Extreme Rules PPV in 2017, fantastic. Emotions aside, the storyline between The Hardys and Shesaro has been underwhelming and the desperation to see any hint of The Broken One return is starting to overshadow the presence of the legendary tag-team. While the time to see a character twist may be some way away, it's these type of extreme matches that has kept the aura strong with Matt and Jeff but trapping them inside a steel cage may not have been the best choice, but with a Swanton Bomb likely occurring off the top of the cage, it will one or two notable moments.
Prediction: The Hardys
Matthew Wilkinson: One thing that the matches between these two tag teams have had in common is that they are hard-hitting and this should be no different with the steel cage stipulation. Steel Cage matches don't lend themselves to tag team bouts very well but the experience and quality of all four wrestlers they shouldn't have a problem and there will no doubt be at least one big spot involved at some point. Sheamus and Cesaro have been excellent as a heel team but the Hardys should keep the belts until The Revival are ready to take the gold.
Prediction: The Hardys
Cruiserweight Championship Submission Match- Neville (c) vs Austin Aries
Joel Lampkin: Neville has been one of the best things to come out from 205 Live, despite the rest of it being a huge disappointment, but the third match in a row of PPVs against Austin Aries, and it may just be time for a change. The Greatest Man That Ever Lived is no slacker by any means but Neville’s star power has so far managed to overshadow his presence. The rest of the roster needs a chance to shine and with the Geordie warrior already a star, maybe he can lend his popularity to another performer.
Prediction: Austin Aries
Matthew Wilkinson: The two matches that Neville and Austin Aries have had at the last two PPV's have been nothing short of brilliant and this should be on that level if not better. With a submission stipulation, it can be expected that it is going to be more technical and mat based as they both look to work their opponents body parts. For as good as Neville's title run has been ( easily the best thing to happen to 205 Live) it is time to give AA a shot and allow some other heels on the roster an opportunity.
Prediction: Austin Aries
Women's Championship Kendo Stick on a Pole Match- Alexa Bliss (c) vs Bayley
Joel Lampkin: Alexa Bliss has been a sensation since her main roster move, firstly proving herself as the top female on SmackDown Live then continuing her dominance on the red brand. Bayley, on the other hand, has been a popular but less than charismatic figure, and pitting her in this extreme style match should spell disaster, not as bad as the ‘This is your life’ segment but still pretty bad. Bliss should dominate and retain her title, setting up a showdown with her helper/muscle Nia Jax at the next PPV.
Prediction: Alexa Bliss
Matthew Wilkinson: For as bad as the 'This is your Life' segment was, these two women can bring it in the ring and whilst a kendo stick on a pole match isn't quite on the level of the Hell in a Cell it is still a historic moment in women's wrestling and because of that I expect this to deliver. The only issue here has been with the booking, and because of that Bayley is going to have to prove she can go extreme here. However, something just hasn't clicked with her on the main roster, whereas Alexa Bliss develops every single week and due to that she should retain the belt.
Prediction: Alexa Bliss
Intercontinental Championship Match (If Dean Ambrose is disqualified, he will lose the title) Dean Ambrose (c) vs The Miz
Joel Lampkin: Dean Ambrose has been rather disappointing over the past 18 months or so, with numerous title reigns of not just the Intercontinental Championship but also of the WWE title not helping his rather laid back style morph into anything more. With The Miz, the A-Lister has proven himself to be one of the most underrated performers over the past year, even overshadowing John Cena at times but he is still yet to get his moment to truly shine in the spotlight. With the odds in the challenger’s favour and a win as easy as Maryse slapping her husband in the face costing the Lunatic Fringe his gold, it seems easy to back The Miz in this bout.
Prediction: The Miz
Matthew Wilkinson: Much like several of the matches on this card (which is a problem with Extreme Rules in general) fans have seen this match so many times that it is tough to care or be excited about seeing them wrestle again. The stipulation is unique and given The Miz's character he should be able to get the best out of it by frustrating Dean Ambrose, but surely WWE will have to find a way to write Maryse out of the match, or she could easily cost Ambrose the belt? Either way, The Miz has been a focal point on Raw since the draft and it is time for him to regain the belt he should never have lost, perhaps with the help of a drifter...
Prediction: The Miz
Extreme Rules #1 Contender's Match - Seth Rollins vs Roman Reigns vs Bray Wyatt vs Finn Balor vs Samoa Joe
Joel Lampkin: Out of all the matches, the star power with this one is off the charts, but the spotlight has been secretly solely on one man from the start; the Demon King Finn Balor. The Irishman seems the clear favourite and despite going up against four larger men, the hype that he has created with none other than Paul Heyman helping establish that also has been great. While it's a shame that the WWE Universal title is not represented on the card, these five main eventers will do the pay-per-view justice and beyond.
Prediction: Finn Balor
Matthew Wilkinson: The exciting thing about this match is that it is actually unpredictable and the star power involved makes this a match not to be missed. All five men could produce totally unique and exciting feuds with Brock Lesnar and for that reason, each man has great fan support which adds to the intensity of the battle. Whilst a lot of the focus has been on Balor throughout the build up to this match, it is for that reason this writer believes he will not win as the WWE can save that match for a future show and he has a pre-built feud with Bray Wyatt ready to be picked up. Instead, this seems like a good time to push Seth Rollins or Samoa Joe to the top as the Roman Reigns and Lesnar encounter will surely be saved for a 'big four' show. Which man out of Rollins and Joe is a coin toss as both would have two totally different, yet equally exciting matches, but after his big WrestleMania moment, continuing to build the King Slayer's face run seems the best decision.
Prediction- Seth Rollins