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Chair Shots: WWE Extreme Rules preview and predictions

WWE's first "special event" since WrestleMania XXX takes place this Sunday on the Network and some cable providers. Here's a look at the card, my thoughts on each match, and predictions on how the results will shake out.

"WeeLC" match: El Torito w/ Los Matadores vs. Hornswoggle w/ 3MB

Sigh. This is actually happening. Obviously, there is a target audience for this sort of match between WWE's two "minis," and I'm just not it. Fortunately, it's part of the pre-show and not the main card, so it's easy for me to look over it (see what I did there?). Hopefully, they'll keep it short (you see!).

WINNER: El Torito

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Triple Threat match: Cesaro w/ Paul Heyman vs. Jack Swagger w/ Zeb Colter vs. Rob Van Dam

Perhaps it's just me, but Triple Threat matches with nothing but pride on the line seem a little silly in today's WWE. If there was more of an emphasis in the narrative that every match, victory and defeat meant something as far as moving up the ladder, or even if this was a No. 1 contender's match for the IC title, I'd be a bit more invested. Even though Swagger is one of my favorite performers, I would've rather him be left out here, since Cesaro has pretty much owned him since their split. However, I think he's in the match to eat the pinfall and protect whoever of Cesaro and RVD isn't victorious from losing clean.

WINNER: Cesaro

Divas Championship: Paige (c) vs. Tamina Snuka

WWE has done a fairly good job building up Paige, at least from an in-ring perspective, since her debut on the main roster and capturing the Divas title the night after WrestleMania. Having her face former champion AJ Lee's bodyguard actually makes a lot of sense too, and she's a formidable, physical challenger. I suspect AJ will be back by next month's Payback show for her rematch with Paige for the title, so the new champ should retain here.

WINNER: And STILL Divas Champion, Paige

Intercontinental Championship: Big E (c) vs. Bad News Barrett

The minute Barrett went over Sheamus - clean -- in the second round of the very enjoyable Intercontinental Championship No. 1 contender's tournament, I knew he was a shoe-in to not only earn this match, but also reclaim the IC title. It's a championship Barrett has possessed on three previous occasions, although none were particularly memorable. The IC title should be taking on a bit more meaning moving forward, with the WWE and World titles merged, it's the secondary title in the company, but it needs a combination of being put on a veteran performer who is already over and can continue to get over, and it also needs a little help from creative by having that champion booked strong. Barrett fits the first few criteria and, so far, WWE's writing team is giving him lots of clean wins over other established vets like Rey Mysterio, Kofi Kingston, Dolph Ziggler and the aforementioned Sheamus. I think he keeps that momentum going here with another victory and title reign.

WINNER: And NEW Intercontinental Champion, Bad News Barrett

2-on-1 Handicap match: Alexander Rusev w/ Lana vs. R-Truth and Xaiver Woods

Rusev ... CRUSH. End of story.

WINNER: Alexander Rusev

Steel Cage match: John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt

The storytelling being done in this feud is some of the best that's come from WWE in a while (assuming Daniel Bryan's arc with Triple H from SummerSlam to WrestleMania was never intended to culminate the way it did until real-life events forced a change), although I understand a lot of fans' frustrations with Cena reverting to silly antics. However, I can live with them, if only because that's what Cena's character has always been and Wyatt has explained away that's how Cena is hiding his fears. I also think it plays into a bigger picture here, although I'm not sure what that is yet. Either way, the build-up to this match has been really fun, even if the WrestleMania match failed to truly deliver in the ring. I've also seen very few steel cage matches that have been "bad" so my expectations for this are pretty high. While I wasn't among those who thought Cena needed to lose at WrestleMania, I do think Wyatt needs to go over here, ending the feud for the time being, and hopefully leading us down a new creative path for Cena, who has never really lost when all the chips are down, as he claims is the case here.

WINNER: Bray Wyatt

Extreme Rules match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Kane

I'm not nearly as down on this match as others seem to be. In fact, considering all the outside obstacles they've had to deal with (making Kane a credible challenger in just a few weeks while Daniel Bryan took time off for his honeymoon and after his father passed), I think this has become pretty good. Drawing Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella into the mix has made this even better, and it's clear that, at some point, Brie is going to give Steph her comeuppance, even if it's not this Sunday, and it's going to be great. Kane's violent attack on Bryan a few Raws ago in Baltimore was terrific to not only make him look like a legit challenger, but also stack the deck against Bryan even further. WWE hasn't even focused on the fact that these two spent the better part of 2012-13 as Tag Team Champions, but most fans will realize there is history there, and obviously good chemistry between these two in the ring. I think this match will be a lot of fun, and has the potential to be the strongest of the three perceived main events. The outcome, however, I do not believe is in doubt for one second.

WINNER: And STILL WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Daniel Bryan

Six-man tag team match: The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns) vs. Evolution (Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton)

Easily, this is the most compelling match on the card, and even though there is no title on the line and it doesn't have an extreme stipulation, it should absolutely close the show on Sunday. The outcome of this match is largely dependant on what's next for all involved. Does WWE plan for this to just be a one-and-done special attraction, or a lengthy feud?

The Shield was ready to break-up a few weeks prior to WrestleMania, then got on the same page in time for a squash against Kane and the New Age Outlaws at the showcase event. A loss here could see them start to show another rift. A victory and you sort of wonder what could possibly be next for them, after having conquered the three biggest heels in the company.

From Evolution's standpoint, there is really no harm in taking a loss and dismantling. Triple H is untouchable at this point. No matter how many losses he suffers, he's still a draw in reality and he's still the boss, both in reality and on television. Randy Orton still has value too, although I think it's clear he'll never truly be "the man" in WWE. He also still has a rematch against Daniel Bryan waiting for him. As for Batista, his usefulness is mainly in putting other people over at this point. And, if rumors that he's taking some time off after Extreme Rules are true, who better to eat the pinfall in this match, then be excommunicated from Evolution? That could also put him in a babyface role that WWE wants when he eventually does return this summer. (I don't think it would be too difficult to get the fans back on his side for a few high-profile matches -- in particular, I'd love to see Batista vs. Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam -- as long as he's given the right opponent and the right on-screen motivation.)

What's the benefit to Evolution winning here? The only obvious answer is that it eliminates the Shield obstacle from all three of them taking another run at Daniel Bryan, a logical story for next month's Payback special event, and potentially resuming their feud with the Shield afterward.

The Shield might actually have more to gain with a loss here, especially if Evolution does what all good heels should do - cheat to win.

WINNERS: Evolution

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