By Matt Straub and Brad Carroll
Before we get into a breakdown of tonight’s WWE Extreme Rules show, I would like to make a plea to the wrestling gods: If I talk about my dislike for a character, I am just talking about the gimmick they’re using or their storyline. I don’t hate any of these people personally, and I do not wish them to be decapitated. I’d rather see bad booking than a severe injury.
Get well soon Enzo, and please don’t come back until you’re truly ready. Concussions, especially big ones like those, are not to be messed with.
Now, don’t mistake my opening statement, which some might see as me turning S-A-W-F-T, as an example of how the rest of this preview is going to go. There are storylines and wrestlers to make fun of. But I am going to watch tonight’s show the way I do horse racing: I’ll enjoy it while hoping no one gets hurt.
The fans shouldn’t be hurt by this show, either. Not because I’m in love with everything WWE has planned, but let’s face it: it’s hard to screw up this PPV. There’s so many weapons and chances for big spots, the show itself will be memorable even if the booking isn’t.
So let’s break down the show with some analysis and our usual banter I enjoy so much. Let’s face it, we’re the realest guys in the room.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin
(No Disqualification Match)
Matt's Breakdown and Pick: By the way, you know who’s not on the kickoff show? Ryback. You know why? Because he asked to be off TV because he thinks the undercard guys should make as much as the top guys because the results are predetermined. He apparently doesn’t get that the reason the guys go to the top is because those are the guys who bring in money. I’m not saying WWE is always right, and we’ll spend the next 2,000 words or so telling you why they’re often not, but if they thought Ryback could make them money, he’d be at the top of the card. But please, feel free to stay off TV then go to TNA when your contract expires with no momentum. That will work well for you.
I actually don’t like talented workers in no DQ matches, and it hurts Corbin here as well. The way to get the big guy over is to dominate Ziggler. He shouldn’t need weaponry. There’s no way he can lose this match, so they should let him look good in the process. Of course, it’s WWE, so Ziggler could win and ruin the kid’s momentum, but I can’t see it. Corbin wins an unnecessarily violent match.
Dolph Ziggler was once a young stud with a chance to become one of the company’s cornerstones for the future. He drew comparisons to Shawn Michaels. Now he’s the new King Barrett. The man some thought could be the next Mr. WrestleMania is now Mr. Kickoff show.
Brad's Breakdown and Pick: Now you all know how to get Matt mad ... threaten the establishment and ask for more money and Straub will drop you quicker than a DDT. Ryback, one of Matt's favorites going back a couple years now, asked for more money from Vince McMahon, and therefore now is persona non grata in the Straub world. That sounds about right. For those of us who thought Ryback was terrible from the start, which is most of us, him taking a hike is great news. Nobody cares about Ryback and nobody will even notice he isn't around anymore. And that's why he doesn't make the money he believes he should.
Oh, I almost forgot there was a match here to talk about, since Matt has already gone on a bunch of side rants to start this preview off. (And, yes, only Matt with his giant ego could believe he's the reason for Enzo's concussion.)
Corbin vs. Ziggler does absolutely nothing for me, and there's nothing new to write about a rematch from the last PPV that was so inconsequential the WWE moved it from the main card to the pre-show event. If they don't care, why should I? But I guess Corbin wins, because he's big and Vince loves the big guys. Ziggler is just a boring waste right now. And, no, he'll never get his past swagger back.
United States Champion Kalisto vs. Rusev
Matt’s Breakdown and Pick: Kalisto is the champion and Alberto Del Rio is dating Paige on Total Divas. As I said last month, I don’t know why I bother sometimes trying to figure this stuff out. But wait, there’s so much other dumb stuff swirling around this match. The League of Nations essentially disbanded, and WWE once again showed they can kill a good idea by not putting any thought into it after the initial brainstorm. Rusev, speaking perfect English, and Lana, pretending to be Russian still, gave the strangest half-shoot, half-work interview in history on WWE.com, which plugged the match and to announce they too would be on Total Divas, a show which is becoming like the late stages of the NWO. Let’s just throw everyone in it, mix people up and see what happens. We’ve tried everything else! I’m surprised the real-life couple is getting a big push after their engagement screwed up a big storyline at the time, but I’ll save the Divas show breakdown for Brad. Except to again mention that Del Rio and Paige are dating, and I just broke down a wrestling match by writing 200 words on a work-shoot soap opera/reality show the company runs on another channel. We’re just starting this preview and I already need Tylenol. Rusev wins because he has a lot of other stuff going on. By the way, Rusev was in the main event of this show last year.
Brad's Breakdown and Pick: Interesting that Matt spends his "200 words" breaking down everything there is to know about Total Divas and the backstage love interests and gossip of the wrestlers like only he can and then says he'll leave the breakdown to me. That's nice, Straubby, but everything I just read above was the first I've ever heard of it. Del Rio and Paige? Weird. Rusev speaks English? Wild. An NWO reference? Awesome. It all proves Matt is way more plugged into the backstage theatrics than anyone of us ever will be. As for the match, I don't get the whole Lucha Dragons fascination the WWE has, but whatever the reason behind it, will end tonight. Rusev wins and the Luchas go back to being Luchas.
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day
vs. The Vaudevillains
Matt’s Breakdown and Pick: This was going to be the New Day vs. Enzo and Cass before the baseball slide from hell ruined the angle, at least for now. I admit after watching another month, the Vaudevillians are funny on the mic, but I still detest the gimmick. I can’t see them winning here, especially with rumors abound that Enzo is close to a return. New. Day. Wins.
Brad's Breakdown and Pick: I wouldn't be surprised if this was going to be the match all along for the New Day. Sure, it made sense for Enzo and Cass to win the No. 1 contenders match at the last PPV against The Vaudevillians and take on the New Day here. But if that happened, there would have been steam lost out of either the New Day's wild momentum, or Enzo and Cass's red-hot start. If Enzo and Cass lost to the New Day, they would have zero momentum. If New Day lost to Enzo and Cass, they would have a rematch at the next PPV, and then what? It's either a bunch of title changes, which nobody will care about, or one team ascending over the other. The Vaudevillians would be a nice team to smooth the transition over to what would have been a great SummerSlam match between New Day and Enzo and Cass. And, for the record, The Vaudevillians would have won in some kind of screwy fashion in the last PPV to get this shot in the first place, as to not ruin the momentum of Enzo and Cass. Either way, as bad as it sounds, the Enzo injury has elevated Big Cass as a singles competitor quicker than he ever would have been as part of the tag team. But who knows what will happen when Enzo comes back. As for this match, I can't imagine New Day dropping the belts just yet, so they win. Although, The Vaudevillians will come out of it looking strong.
The Usos vs. Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows
(Tag Team Tornado Match)
Matt’s Breakdown and Pick: I just spent several minutes tapping my keyboard trying to come up with something to say about this dreck. I figured everyone in this match would end up being involved in the main event, which could still happen, but only after we watch them fight first. At least a Tornado Match can be fun. Everyone can be in the ring at any time like a four-way, but it’s 2-on-2. I guess Anderson and Gallows win. I can guarantee a snack break.
Brad's Breakdown and Pick: The Usos are terrible and Anderson and Gallows are boring, so obviously I can't wait for this match to happen. I'll say this, though, AJ Styles has some clout in the company if he can not only get his two buddies in the WWE, but at the top of the card as well. It says maybe Styles could be at the top of the card for a while. Maybe even as champion. But we'll get to that in a bit. I wonder if the Usos are happy or not to be connected to Roman Reigns now. On the surface it's great. But knowing how the crowd hates Reigns, it really can't be that good for a tag team that was popular. But, anyway, the "good guys" win this one, which I guess is the Usos.
Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho
Matt’s Breakdown and Pick: Last month I said I wanted to see more of this feud. I’m now ready for it to be done. It has devolved into fighting over a coat and a plant. The “Asylum” is a rusty cage with weapons attached to the top. It’s also the place Ambrose is going to drive Brad to. The match could be good if you like violence, which Ambrose excels at and gives Y2J a chance to hide the fact he’s a fat old man now who can’t run much anymore. Ambrose needs the win more, and it’s his match, so I can’t see him losing. I would like to see everyone move on after this, however.
Brad's Breakdown and Pick: Matt is right about me being taken to an Asylum, but not just by this match, but everything that has come before it as well. This is the fifth match we've broken down and I'm not looking forward to any of them. Here's another two guys I can do without, especially Chris Jericho, which I've written about 100 times since he's come back and the commentary stays the same - his time is so far gone he's just ruining his aura now. Ambrose wins what should be a good match. Then, who knows where these two go. And, really who cares?
Intercontinental Champion The Miz vs. Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn (Fatal 4-Way Match)
Matt’s Breakdown and Pick: Usually I like having a bunch of matches on the card, as there’s always something to look forward to if the current match is boring. In this case, however, I’d love to drop a couple (the tag matches) and give this one 45 minutes. It won’t happen, but this one will be fun. Owens was an absolute star at Payback, and the Miz seems to have his career back on track. James Bond and the guy who lost to Owens and shouldn’t be here (I know he got a second chance but still) are also in the match and are good workers. There’s no chance this match is bad or boring. There’s a chance Owens loses, which would be a shame. He’s still my pick, however.
Brad's Breakdown and Pick: Yes, Owens was the breakout star of Payback and hopefully the WWE noticed. It was Owens that single-handily carried the last PPV after the Enzo injury shortened that match by at least 10 minutes. Owens deserves better, which is something I've been writing here since his first match in the WWE. He should win this, although the intercontinental title is still a notch below where Owens belongs. The Miz is relevant again because he's the champion. Take that title away and he's the bit player he was before winning it. Cesaro has taken a giant step forward as a character, and even though Matt hates him, he is on his way to a singles title before long, maybe even here. Sami Zayn is behind Owens, but has a future ahead of him. It's just in the future and not now. I'll go with Owens winning the belt, but if the WWE has other plans, Cesaro wins the strap. The fans will love the finish if there is a new champion, whomever it may end up being.
WWE Women's Champion Charlotte vs. Natalya (Submission Match; Ric Flair banned from ringside)
Matt’s Breakdown and Pick: I know I said it last month, but please don’t have Bret and Ric fight. This match is an interesting turning point for Charlotte. If Ric is really away from the match, she has a chance to show her skills, which, while not equal to some of the other divas, are still good. The problem is, I love her with her father. She’s not just a diva, she’s a Flair, and this angle is perfect for her. If they want to have her decide she can go on her own, saying she learned from Natalya she’s her own person, it’s fine, it works as a story. The problem is, I can’t see her as a face, especially if she’s going to fight Sasha, who people LOVE, this summer. Also, Nattie is a good hand for the company, but not championship material. Hey, maybe they’ll talk all about this on Total Divas! Charlotte wins and stays with her father, who finds a way to get involved, for now.
Brad's Breakdown and Pick: Matt keeps on calling the women's wrestlers divas, which isn't exactly politically correct anymore. But that's the rebel Straub I know. This match is a placeholder, again, until enough time can elapse where they can finally set up a Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks matchup, where Banks will surely win the championship at SummerSlam. Until then, we get matches like this, where Natalya gets the rub of being in a couple of title matches without deserving any of them. With Ric Flair out of the match, I see it more as a way to slowly get him out of the spotlight so Charlotte can finally stand on her own. She doesn't need Ric to succeed anymore. Ric needs Charlotte, and that's sad. Charlotte will win this match. Matt can go back to watching Natalya on his favorite TV show.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns
vs. AJ Styles (Extreme Rules Match)
Matt’s Breakdown and Pick: WWE had a popular new guy to go against Reigns and get the cheers. And they made him the bad guy who needed help to win. The good news is we’ll have a winner and some clarity about the company’s future after this match. The bad news is this is the only logical place for the McMahons to get involved. While I like Shane, I can’t get over all the craziness we’ve covered extensively in the last couple months about how terrible the angle is. We could see a big return here, with John Cena, Seth Rollins and Randy Orton all rumored to be close to a return. Let’s hope, just to breathe some life into the top of the card. Reigns wins, the crowd boos, Vince doesn’t care.
Brad's Breakdown and Pick: For all the talk of a new era in the WWE, it's all a bunch of bunk given who the world champion is and what he represents. I've gone on endlessly about how much Roman Reigns is in over his head as not only a world champion, but someone at the top of the card at all. He's a mid-carder with some potential. He's just far removed from reaching top-level potential that it's a joke he's the champion right now. He was so outclassed by AJ Styles at the last PPV it was comical. It was even more comical when Reigns had the audacity to act like he was Brock Lesnar, looking across the ring and seeing Styles as someone beneath him. Reigns is beneath Styles, but that is probably lost on the paper champion. I picked Styles to win the belt last time around, and it almost happened, although that statement doesn't really make sense in the WWE world. But I'm going to pick Styles again to win the belt and truly kick off a new era in the WWE. Then, we could have Rollins and Cena and maybe Finn Balor debut to shake things up completely. Then Reigns could slowly move down to the mid-card, where he belongs until he gets some skill in the ring, on the mic and in the personality department. And, also, I couldn't care less about a Randy Orton return. But we all know Reigns is walking out the champion tonight.