by BROCK KOLLER
Remember WrestleMania? That was one whole month ago. It seems a lot longer, doesn't it?
Well, to whet your appetite for next year's WrestleMania, tonight WWE brings you its first pay per view of its new nascent season - Extreme Rules. Here are my predictions as they happen in my mind.
TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: CESARO & KIDD vs. NEW DAY
It's the Kickoff's show favorite type of match - a tag team championship. It's Clap. Clap. vs. Clap. Clap. Clap. Cesaro & Kidd are flying high. New Day is trying to find its footing as the Bo Dallas of tag teams (motivational heels). Leave the titles on the champs. Clap. Clap. Fact.
WINNERS: CESARO & KIDD
CHICAGO STREET FIGHT: DEAN AMBROSE vs. LUKE HARPER
Chicago Street Fights are the worst kind of street fights. Just ask the Nation of Domination at WrestleMania 13. I believe even the kitchen sink was involved in that one! Honestly, there is no difference from a Chicago Street Fight to a Denver Street Fight to a Poughkeepsie Street Fight. With that said, both these men could use a win. But who to give it to? I think with a few victories, Ambrose could return back to the main event picture. Harper needs some more building. Should be a great fight.
WINNER: DEAN AMBROSE
KISS ME ARSE MATCH: DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. SHEAMUS
Terrible stipulation aside, these guys should steal the show. Heel Sheamus is one of the most exciting aspects of the new WWE season. The only downside is that Ziggler will mostly lose. However, I see him outsmarting Sheamus and not having to kiss his...well, you know. But Sheamus is on fire and perhaps his next opponent will be the man who won the previous match, fella.
INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: BRYAN vs. BARRETT
Daniel Bryan represents the uncertainty of wrestling and why sometimes wrestling fans have to appreciate what they were given - even if it wasn't enough. Other examples what I'm referring to include Steve Austin & Triple H teaming up to be the Two Man Power Trip and Chris Jericho & Edge finally teaming up and becoming tag champions. Both those teams should have made huge impacts in WWE's history, but because of injuries, their runs ended abruptly and fans could only look back on the short time they had to enjoy. When Daniel Bryan won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship last year, fans could not wait to see what the business would change into with Bryan on top. But because of injury and the uncertainty of the industry, the paradigm shifted and Daniel Bryan was nowhere to be seen. Fast forward to this year's Mania and Bryan wins the IC Title. 'We'll take it,' the fans said. But even in quicker fashion than last year, the Bryan story is seemingly put on pause. By all accounts, this match will not happen. By all accounts, Daniel Bryan will be out of action for a number of weeks due to injury. BUT by my account, Wade Barrett will not walk out of Extreme Rules champion. No, he will be placed in a title match against the Man that Gravity Forgot, also known as the New Sensation (for some reason), and your NEW Intercontinental Champion - Neville.
WINNER: (After Bryan surrenders the title and a new title match is made) NEVILLE
LAST MAN STANDING MATCH: ROMAN REIGNS vs. BIG SHOW
Big Show is getting Big Show heat - as in 'Please Retire.' That's not a good thing. But for Roman Reigns, that is a great thing. Reigns has been trying to win over the WWE Universe for months and with an opponent like Big Show who makes fans of all sizes groan in boredom, Reigns might finally be able to sway the detractors he has left. Give him some rope and let's see what he can do. No seriously, give him some rope, because I'm sure he's going to tie Big Show to the post or to a flatbed truck or an ambulance and get the win.
WINNER: ROMAN REIGNS
DIVAS CHAMPIONSHIP: NIKKI BELLA vs. NAOMI
Is Nikki Bella a good Diva now? Because Naomi is definitely a heel. Whatever their moral compass says, this has the makings of a good women's wrestling match. Naomi vs. Natalya on Smackdown was very good. And Nikki has had the title for so long that it's not worth saying she has improved in the ring. The only question - who walks out champion?
US CHAMPIONSHIP RUSSIAN CHAIN MATCH: CENA vs. RUSEV
Do not confuse this with a Chicago Chain Match (is there one?) because this is a Russian Chain Match. In this match, a Superstar must touch all four corners in succession without being interrupted in any way by his opponent who is attached by a chain - which can be used as a weapon - and will be used as a weapon. John Cena has shined as United States Champion. His US challenges on Raw have been some of his best matches in a while - probably because he's facing fresh opponents who aren't Randy Orton or Brock Lesnar. Rusev will have to lose this one, but he's proven his value that he is a monster. I don't see them turning him face for a few years - eventually WWE turns every big man face - Yokozuna, Vader, Big Show - but Rusev, even with another loss to Cena is a monster heel and will move on to another feud.
WINNER: JOHN CENA
WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP STEEL CAGE MATCH, RKO IS BANNED, KANE IS GATEKEEPER: ROLLINS vs. ORTON
There is a lot going on in this match. Steel cage. No RKO. Kane. And while it's not an official stipulation on paper, reports say WWE has banned the Curb Stomp, whether it be out of health reasons or creative decision, it's gone. So with no RKO and no Curb Stomp, these two main eventers must use some other tactics from their repertoire. Even without their two iconic finishers, these two will put on a show. The steel cage isn't really needed; plus, in this PG era, it isn't used that often as a weapon. I actually would rather them not use the cage that often and just have a good, one-on-one match. I'm sure the cage door and Kane will come into play throughout the contest, but hopefully it won't play a factor until the end of the match (hopefully, it won't play a factor at all, but you and I know it will). Along with Kane's surefire (get it) interference, I see some other hocus pocus going on in this one. Just like Hell In A Cell ended with some spookiness, I foresee Extreme Rules going the same route. For you see, Bray Wyatt has been talking in riddles again:
Just when it looks like Kane is opening the cage door for Randy Orton to win the match - the lights will go out. To me, the quote above means Wyatt will show up - no need for Kane to open the door, he'll let himself in - and Bray will target Orton's arms to take away his RKO for future use. For what use is there for a butterfly with no wings? And just like at HIAC, Wyatt's interference will allow Rollins to walk away the winner of a cage match. This time though, Rollins will make Kane open the door for him. Kane will do so reluctantly. And Seth Rollins will retain the championship and Bray Wyatt will move on to another feud that makes no real sense.
WINNER: SETH ROLLINS
And now onto next month for Payback or Over the Limit or May Madness or... I miss King of the Ring.