WWE Extreme Rules Preview

John Pollock previews tonight's WWE Extreme Rules events, featuring Roman Reigns taking on Bobby Lashley, a WWE title match between AJ Styles and Rusev, as well as Ronda Rousey appearing on the show and Team Hell No challenging for the SmackDown tag titles.

Tonight, is the WWE’s Extreme Rules show from the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The show feels like a holdover event until SummerSlam as I sense minimal interest for this card. Including the kickoff card, there are 12 matches on tonight’s show and with one being an Ironman match, this is going to be a long show. The original target for these “B” shows was to wrap them by 10:30 pm Eastern but as we saw last month, they didn’t come close to hitting that mark at Money in the Bank and I doubt they will on this show. The major stuff is Ronda Rousey’s appearance for the Raw women’s title match and whatever is set up in that one, and the Roman Reigns vs. Bobby Lashley match that has legitimate interest because of the buildup and is a fresh match, something desperately needed in the main event picture.

Below is the full card:

Roman Reigns vs. Bobby Lashley
It hasn’t been stated outright that the winner is facing Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam, but an ounce of logic suggests the winner will at least be part of the title match. It’s been a straightforward lead up to this match with the two fighting for the right to be the top guy with believable promos and a focused build. Reigns winning is going to be met with lots of negativity and I wouldn’t even want to tease Reigns having another rematch with Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. There is a way to get to that rematch without Reigns winning tonight and I feel Lashley winning is the better play for all involved. Lashley winning this match instantly gives him credibility, a fresh match for Lesnar and the opportunity to do a great buildup with the two crossover fighters. With Lesnar advertised for the Raw after SummerSlam at the Barclays Center, I think that should be the night Reigns gets his rematch. It is impromptu and the novelty of Lesnar’s first television match since returning in 2012 would be a great send off with Reigns winning and Lesnar disappears. Reigns would get his win while still having a loss hanging over his head and that keeps Lashley viable, even with Lashley losing at SummerSlam as a swerve with people assuming Lesnar will drop the title that night.

AJ Styles vs. Rusev for the WWE title
For Rusev’s sake, I hope this is a very hot match and he isn’t in the ring with the best opponent for that scenario. Rusev’s big popularity peak was months ago, he feels like the opponent of the month that he is here to keep Styles busy until SummerSlam. It’s a big match for Rusev to have a great 16-to-18-minute match and it’s also a fresh pairing like the top match. Styles should retain, and we probably have an idea of the direction for Styles at SummerSlam by Tuesday.

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The Bludgeon Brothers vs. Team Hell No for the SmackDown tag titles
Team Hell No’s reunion is one of the most promoted elements of the show and the audience should react strongly. I’ve spoken about it on our shows, I don’t like this role for Bryan and compare it to Kurt Angle in 2001 during the invasion. Angle was excellent at comedy, but when the invasion started he was past that point of his character being the butt of the joke and just because someone is great at comedy (as Bryan is), it doesn’t mean it’s the best use of him when he’s a legitimate top babyface. It’s not a killer for Bryan but the quicker Team Hell No runs its course, the better. This should be a good match, especially with Bryan and Harper.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins in a 30:00 Ironman match for the Intercontinental title
This appears to be the consensus pick for match of the night and should be one of the strongest WWE matches this year. Ironman matches can be difficult, and Pittsburgh is often a tough crowd. That said, these two have been outstanding over the past month with Rollins having a terrific year. Drew McIntyre is allowed ringside, so I guess he is being encouraged to interfere. I threw out a scenario of Ziggler winning with the help of McIntyre and leads to an angle on Raw where Rollins is being double teamed again to set up the return of Dean Ambrose for a tag match at SummerSlam.

Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax in an Extreme Rules Match for the Raw women’s title
 Ronda Rousey will be seated in the front row and hopefully, that doesn’t distract from the first half of the match. The audience is trained to expect Rousey to get involved so the women are going to have to work around that. Jax and Bliss didn’t have a great WrestleMania match, the size disparity with Jax as the babyface is such a hard visual to overcome. The use of weapons will probably help the match as it gives a logical reason for Bliss to get the heat and have Jax sell believably. Whatever is planned for Rousey, it should be solid as her appearances have been close to home runs on pay-per-view. It seems like Bliss vs. Rousey is the direction for SummerSlam.

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Carmella vs. Asuka for the SmackDown women’s title
James Ellsworth will be hung above the ring in a shark cage. Once I heard the Ellsworth stipulation, it made it seem that Asuka needs to win or else look foolish losing a fair match with Carmella. Their match last month was one of Asuka’s worst in the company, so hopefully, this one is better. Asuka winning is the best move for the division given the opponents she can have strong matches with, yet Asuka has never felt this cold since signing in 2015.

Kevin Owens vs. Braun Strowman in a steel cage match
This feud hasn’t grabbed my interest and if this is stuck in the middle of the show and goes long, I don’t think the crowd will be with it. Strowman needs a program to divert his attention from the title and if he isn’t figured into the title match at SummerSlam, Owens should win to keep this going and escaping the cage like a coward is the easy call for that finish. The other option is having Strowman kill him and then challenge Brock Lesnar so the booking is the intriguing element.

Jeff Hardy vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the United States title
Hardy recently noted that because of his lower back issues, he is limiting the Swanton at live events. I don’t think Hardy holding a title makes one iota of difference for his character. Nakamura has been consistently strong since the heel turn and would be my choice to win the title. I’m not sure how these two will mesh inside the ring and how limited Hardy is.

Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt vs. The B Team for the Raw tag titles

Hardy and Wyatt retain. These titles should be with Ziggler & McIntyre or The Authors of Pain as the comedy tag division is a big weak spot of WWE programming.

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Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin
 The placement of this match is critical. I have no interest in this pairing, so my expectations are low. On a show this long, I would not be putting these two out for anything longer than 10 minutes.

New Day vs. Sanity in a Tables Match on the kickoff show
 I think this should be a really, good match and New Day has proven you can have an excellent match on the kickoff. This may be the sleeper on the show and I see Sanity winning.

Andrade Cien Almas vs. Sin Cara on the kickoff show
 I guess there were questions left unanswered following Tuesday’s win by Almas. They had a very good television match so I’m not complaining. The two kickoff matches should both be positives for the show.

About John Pollock 5595 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.