With four new matches announced on Raw and a change to the World Championship Triple Threat ladder match because of Dolph Ziggler's concussion, the card for this Sunday's Extreme Rules PPV is pretty much set.
Here is a look at the card, and how I think each match will go down.
The Miz vs. Cody Rhodes
I miss matches like this. WWE used to just put two mid-cards guys together on a PPV without a lot of build-up and just let them wrestle. I know some people hate when there isn't build-up to a match, but I honestly think there should be more situations like this. If we are to suspend belief that WWE is a "real sport" then there should be a lot of matches booked between two competitors just fighting to get a victory and move up in the ranks. It's perfectly fine for a pre-show situation.
WINNER: The Miz. He just returned to TV this week and Cody hasn't won a meaningful match in forever. Miz is quickly becoming king of the preshow, however.
Chris Jericho vs. Fandango
This one could get a stipulation, or it could just be a regular wrestling match. WWE hurt Fandango's momentum a little bit, in my opinion, when they inexplicably had him get counted out against R-Truth, ending his undefeated streak for no apparent reason. I always thought Jericho should've just beaten him at WrestleMania, then gotten attacked afterward or something to keep it going. Now, I think a loss to Jericho hurts Fandango and does nothing for Y2J, so this one is pretty easy to predict.
WINNER: Fandango. I don't know what Jericho's schedule with WWE is like over the next few weeks -- he's not advertised for Raw for the next month -- but if he's going off TV, this would be a good way to wrap up the feud.
United States Championship
Kofi Kingston (c) vs. Dean Ambrose
WWE officials apparently see a lot in Ambrose as a singles competitor and I do too, but after months of kind of emerging as the leader of the Shield, this feels out of place. Kofi was added to the feud in an enhancement match for the Shield that also included the Usos, then made a save for Team Hell No later in the show, sparking this feud. The U.S. title seems like a step down for Ambrose after being in the main event scene for much of the year against Ryback, Cena, Sheamus, Orton, Bryan, Kane and even the Undertaker. Maybe he can give it some shine. This could use a stipulation, maybe a ladder match, since that's off the books in the World title scene?
WINNER: And NEW United States Champion, Dean Ambrose. We knew Kofi was a transitional champ, we just didn't know who he'd be transitioning the title too. Now we do.
Extreme Rules match
Randy Orton vs. Big Show
The story behind this feud is actually decent, and I think the Extreme Rules stipulation should help this two do something pretty enjoyable. Call me crazy, but I can't actually recall a one-on-one match between these two luminaries at any point in their careers. I'm sure it's happened, but this actually feels kind of fresh. Also, is it just me, or has Big Show not really been on TV a whole lot the past month? Just an observation, I don't know what it means. Meanwhile, Orton hasn't lost since WrestleMania. I like Orton better when he's not chasing a championship. Just another observation. This could go either way, but ...
WINNER: Randy Orton. I tend not to bet against Orton, even though his PPV record isn't exactly stellar. I have no idea what's next for these two though.
Sheamus vs. Mark Henry
Can you say ~HOSS FIGHT~!!! The build-up to this has been... interesting, for lack of a better term. While Henry kind of started this feud by attacking Sheamus out of no where, the Celtic Warrior has sort of been the bully in this feud while Henry continues to execute impressive feats on strength. But Sheamus is a prime example of a guy who absolutely kills it every time he gets in the ring, even if the out-of-the-ring shenanigins leave you scratching your head. This one should be fun and brutal, but will probably end the way all strap matches do.
WINNER: Sheamus. Henry gets the upper hand, drags him around touching all four corners, but Sheamus does the same. They get to the final corner, they get into a tug-of-war with the strap and Henry accidentally pulls Sheamus into the fourth corner, giving him the win but keeping Henry looking strong. Figuratively and literally.
Tag Team Championship Tornado match
Kane and Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns
Tornado tag matches are fun, and I wish WWE did more of them. Two teams wrestling without having to tag leads to some really fast-paced action. It will be interesting to see the Shield without Ambrose. I'm not sure if DQs apply or not in the kayfabe sense, so I could potentially see him getting involved. I guess that means Kofi Kingston probably would too. Why not just book a 6-man tornado tag with all the titles on the line. You know what, maybe Teddy Long will do just that if this goes on before the U.S. title match and Ambrose and Kingston get involved. I like that better. Either way ...
WINNERS: And NEW Tag Team Champions, The Shield. Rollins and Reigns has a nice ring to it. The run of Team Hell No has been great, but it's time for it to come to an end. Obviously, they'll get a rematch at the next PPV, but I think after that, we will see them go their separate ways. Maybe Bryan and Ambrose will feud over the U.S. title?
I Quit match for the No. 1 contendership to the World Championship
Jack Swagger vs. Alberto Del Rio
Way back when this feud started, there were rumors that after WrestleMania, they would build to a submission or I Quit match between these two based on their finishers. I think it's weird that, despite Del Rio picking a ladder match for the World Championship, and Swagger displaying a ton of brutality with the ladder during the build, they switched this one up. They easily could've put a contract above the ring. Also, you wouldn't make one competitor look bad by having them say "I Quit" which is kind of the ultimate defeat in my opinion. Ah well.
WINNER: Alberto Del Rio. There is no chance this goes the other way. Personally, I would've stripped Ziggler, put the title up for grabs in the ladder match, had Swagger win it, then do the Triple Threat next month. Now, it's obvious Del Rio is going over because they aren't going to do the heel dynamic of Swagger vs. Ziggler, which won't get a lot of heat.
WWE Championship -- Last Man Standing match
John Cena (c) vs. Ryback
Some people are really hating on this match. I think it has a ton of intrigue to it. The brutality that typically comes with a Last Man Standing match should hide the deficiencies in Ryback's game at this point. I do hope, just to mess with snarky fans, they do a duct tape spot and Ryback breaks out of it. I wanted Big Show to do that back at the Royal Rumble against Del Rio, but it didn't happen. I do expect there to be a bit of a screwy finish here, however, which leads to ...
WINNER: And NEW WWE Champion, Ryback. The Shield has been way too involved in the telling of this story for them to not have an impact on the match. I don't exactly see them outwardly helping Ryback win, but I can see a scenario where Cena appears to have Ryback down for the count, enter the Shield, beatdown on Cena and when the ref finally gets control to start counting (nevermind that Ryback has been down the whole time the Shield was involved) Ryback beats the 10 count and Cena doesn't. No, Ryback won't be the new member of the Shield, but perhaps he paid them off, just like Punk did to beat Ryback previously.
Steel Cage match
Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H
A rubber match inside a steel cage. I thought the WrestleMania match between these two was better than most are giving it credit for -- a crowd that either didn't care or didn't want to care hurt it -- but I realize that's not the cool thing to say. However, their match at SummerSlam last year was underwhelming. I think the drama added by a steel cage will make this one better. While it's hard to bet against Triple H, to have Lesnar lose for the third time since his return to WWE last year would be incredibly damaging to his credibility. The expectation is that he fights the Rock sometime in the next year. It's not necessary he's booked strong to make that sell, but it certainly can't hurt.
WINNER: Brock Lesnar. WWE needs to find a way to definitively close the book on Lesnar-Triple H with this final chapter. While Lesnar should and will win, I'm intrigued how he does so and what is done to sort of move both of them on to other things. Twice, Lesnar "broke" Triple H's arm to write him off TV. They can't do that again. I'd like to see something involving CM Punk, but I'm not holding my breath.