Since WrestleMania, the biggest buzz in the WWE Universe has focused around Brock Lesnar’s return to professional wrestling.
This Sunday, Lesnar will compete in his first match back from a nearly eight-year absence when he faces John Cena in an Extreme Rules match at the pay-per-view of the same name.
As of this writing, only a handful of matches have been announced for the show, leaving room for last-minute additions.
Ring Posts contributors Arda Ocal and Adam Testa weighed in with their predictions for the card thus far.
United States Championship
Santino Marella (c) vs. The Miz
Arda: The most interesting part of this match is that it will stream live on YouTube. I don't mind Santino Marella's comedy and see how it has a spot on he roster, but The Miz in a U.S. title match just further devalues the U.S. championship to me. I don't see why it even exists at this point other than having another title around. I'll say Santino wins and we continue to not care about The Miz at present time.
Prediction: Santino Marella
Adam: Apparently the new concept for a dark match is to stream it on YouTube, and honestly, I’m surprised to see The Miz even getting that much attention at Extreme Rules. He has been absent from television since WrestleMania, aside from a short promo with John Laurinaitis, and has somehow managed to fall even further from the top of the card, where he was situated last year. I’m glad Marella is getting rewarded for his work and dedication, and I’m OK with the act, but putting this on a pre-show of a pay-per-view with minimal matches announced is a bit of a poor joke.
Prediction: Santino Marella
Big Show (c) vs. Cody Rhodes
Arda: This is an unfortunate matchup to me because I don't like either guy as Intercontinental champion. The Big Show and Great Khali seem like a good tag team that should remain a team, especially after dismantling the tag champs Epico and Primo a couple weeks ago on Raw. I think Cody Rhodes has outgrown "secondary title" status and, like Dolph Ziggler, can truly begin his slow-but-steady climb to main-event status. Let's see Show retain and move on, losing the title to someone else soon after.
Prediction: Big Show
Adam: Since dropping the title in the first place, Rhodes has been made to look like a bit of a joke. I could see that as being the set-up to him regaining the title, but I don’t think he needs it. I think this is Show’s revenge at all the fun Rhodes poked at him. Hopefully this ends relatively painless for Rhodes, and he and Show both move on to new things.
Predictions: Big Show
Falls Count Anywhere
Randy Orton vs. Kane
Arda: On a PPV where matches have the same stipulations but different names (Chicago Street Fight vs. Extreme Rules match), it's nice to see one with a twist -- naturally, with a falls count anywhere stipulation, this one lends itself to going all over the arena. In fact, I wouldn't mind this one going everywhere -- through the crowd, into the merchandise areas, concession stands, the locker room, parking lot, the boiler room (a la Undertaker/Mankind at Summerslam 1996). This is the competitive advantage this match has in terms of standing out from the rest. I see Orton pinning Kane in some remote part of the arena. I'm hoping that of all the matches that are on the card, this rivalry ends at Extreme Rules.
Prediction: Randy Orton
Adam: While I agree with Arda’s sentiments, I think this is a match that could have been differentiated even more with a different gimmick. These two already had a WrestleMania match, followed it up with a no-disqualification contest and have continued to play mind games with each other. A Last Man Standing match seems like it would have been a more appropriate conclusion to this story, but regardless the stipulation, the result remains the same.
Prediction: Randy Orton
World Heavyweight Championship
Sheamus (c) vs. Daniel Bryan
Arda: Who expected the response from the audience that Daniel Bryan has received since WrestleMania? In what could – likely, should – have been a career burial, Sheamus beats Daniel Bryan in 18 seconds at WrestleMania, but once again, all eyes are on Bryan going into the title rematch with Sheamus. Fans have responded with chants of "YES!” making it as popular as "WHAT?" If anyone got hurt by the 18-second match at WrestleMania, it's Sheamus. Bryan has truly carried the lion's share of interest for me in this program. Unfortunately, for that very reason, I see Sheamus holding onto the gold, even though many fans might feel that Daniel Bryan deserves to win. Perhaps the match starts with another quick fall, like at Mania.
[Editor's note: Read Arda's interview with Daniel Bryan here].
Adam: Like Arda covered, the reaction Bryan has received since losing at WrestleMania has been tremendous. Hopefully WWE officials have taken notice and translate it into a sustained run. I can see Bryan losing the first fall in this match in embarrassingly short fashion, only to come back and dominate for the second fall. In the end, I’m holding out hope WWE pulls another title switch and puts the belt back on Bryan. I just feel there’s much more to do with Bryan as the champ than Sheamus, and this show is also seeming very heavy on babyface victories, so I’m calling for this wrong to be righted and the title to be returned to its rightful place.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan
Chicago Street Fight
CM Punk (c) vs. Chris Jericho
Arda: This should have an electric feel, with Punk returning home and sure to receive a hot hometown reaction. Obviously the "street fight" stipulation and it being on the Extreme Rules PPV lends itself to being a more brawling-style match. I see Punk getting the win, honor in his family is restored and both men separate to begin new feuds in May.
Prediction: CM Punk
Adam: When CM Punk walked into last year’s “Money in the Bank” as a villain, he received the loudest reaction of any fan favorites that night. Now, he’s returning home in the fight of his life against an opponent who has dragged him down a dark path of memories. The crowd reaction for this match should be insane, and the booking seems right for Punk to give the crowd just what they want to see.
Prediction: CM Punk
John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar
Arda: Brock Lesnar needs to win strong here, for multiple reasons. First, if Lesnar is, in fact, on a year-long contract, him losing in his first match back in eight years, with 11 months to go, would hurt his "I'm not a superstar, I'm a fighter" persona. Meanwhile, for John Cena, I wrote in a previous column about the idea of the franchise player going on a slump. In the long term, a loss here would benefit both parties. I envision this match being brash, raw and snug. Look for a Lesnar win clean in the center of the ring, either by F5 or by ref stoppage. I wouldn't be surprised if Lesnar pulled out some MMA moves, including some submissions not seen in WWE as of yet (picture an arm triangle Lesnar used to defeat Shane Carwin in the UFC), with Cena selling the fact that he doesn't know how to counter. I see a rematch coming out of this match at the next PPV.
Prediction: Brock Lesnar
Adam: This isn’t going to be a wrestling match; it’s going to be a straight-out fight. These two are going to brawl like brawling has never been done before in WWE. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see blood spilled in this match, likely from Cena’s mouth or face, as we saw previously on Raw. I see two potential outcomes to this match, and they are a Lesnar victory or a non-finish because of excessive use of violence. With the Extreme Rules stipulation, it allows Lesnar to go over without doing too much damage to Cena, who can claim afterward that he can still out-“wrestle” Lesnar any day.
Prediction: Brock LesnarCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun