WrestleMania is not only WWE’s biggest event of the year; it is also as close as you will get to their version of a series finale. Feuds are settled, journeys have culminated and sometimes a well-established character will walk off into the sunset.
On the post-WrestleMania Raw – typically one of the most exciting nights of the WWE’s calendar - new stars are introduced, challengers emerge for titles, and legends are paid tribute to. It is WWE’s way of hitting reset and starting afresh.
The problem is, after this year’s WrestleMania, WWE hasn’t really managed to hit reset - it has hit pause, and in some cases has even had the rewind button down. This Sunday sees WWE’s first PPV (or ‘Special Event’ on the WWE Network) since WrestleMania 30, Extreme Rules. Here’s what’s happening:
The Past vs The Present and The Future – In what has been built up as the main event of Extreme Rules, the recently reformed Evolution trio of HHH, Batista and Randy Orton have moved swiftly from their respective battles with Daniel Bryan to an all out war with The Shield in a clever piece of storytelling. With the collective talent that will contest this match, it is hard to imagine that it will be anything less than stellar, and sharing ring time with a trio of established stars such as Evolution can only be good for The Shield in the long run. Rumour has it that Roman Reigns is lined up to face HHH at Summerslam, so it could well be the big Samoan who takes the loss in this one. If it’s even half as good as The Shield’s titanic encounter with The Wyatt Family at Elimination Chamber, we’ll be in for a treat.
Bray needs the win – Bray Wyatt should have won at WrestleMania. It just made more sense – the storyline of a valiant John Cena, battling with self-doubt and finally overcoming the odds to beat Wyatt makes for a much better story than Wyatt having to level the scores. Despite this, Wyatt’s star continues to shine and he has the support of a healthy portion of the WWE fanbase, and as such makes for a great plot device as the demented cult leader takes away the poster boy’s supporters. (Of course, it has been nearly ten years since the WWE fans first started to boo John Cena and they haven’t let up since, but for the storyline it works wonders) This battle takes place inside the confines of a steel cage, but don’t be surprised to see Luke Harper and Eric Rowan get involved. A victory here will rank alongside Wyatt’s clean win over Daniel Bryan at the Royal Rumble, and will surely lead to the loudest rendition of ‘He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands’ yet.
Kane as the number one contender? Hell No – Kane has been an incredibly loyal and useful servant to the WWE over the last 17 years, but is he really the guy you want facing Daniel Bryan in his first title defence following his historic night at WrestleMania? With this match being contested under ‘Extreme Rules’ (anything goes) expect it to be full of kendo stick shots (why are they always under the ring?) and around the arena brawling. With Bryan’s near flawless talent and Kane’s veteran know how the match will likely be good, but surely there could have been a better opponent? Sheamus is on the brink of a much needed heel turn, so here’s hoping this will be the last time the former partners face off.
Bad News for Big E - Preston’s finest Wade ‘Bad News’ Barrett is in the midst of a push following a fine showing in the number one contender’s tournament for Big E’s Intercontinental Championship, which included a clean win over Sheamus. With momentum behind him and the steam having gone out of Big E’s run, expect the streets of Lancashire to be dancing with joy come Monday morning.
Anything else? Paige makes the first defence of her Diva’s title against Tamina, Cesaro tangles with former partner Jack Swagger and Rob Van Dam in a triple threat elimination match (which should be excellent), Rusev takes on R-Truth and Xavier Woods in a handicap match and in the pre-show El Torito takes on Hornswoggle in a Wee-LC match (it’s a TLC match but they are little people you see…) which will have all adult viewers switching the channel as soon as someone else enters the room.
How can I watch it? Extreme Rules is live on Sky Box Office at 1am Monday morning with repeats throughout the week, at the cost of £14.95. US viewers can tune in via the WWE Network.