WWE's "The Horror Show At Extreme Rules" will take place at the WWE Performance Center Sunday July 19th, at 7pm ET (Kickoff Show begins at 6pm ET) and will be broadcast on the WWE Network. Due to COVID complications, this show will be pre taped without a live audience. WWE is adjusting to this by continuing the trend of cinematic-style matches featuring a "Wyatt Swamp Fight" between Braun Strowman & Bray Wyatt. The "Bar Fight" between Sheamus & Jeff Hardy has been moved to next Friday's SmackDown to test the success of a cinematic match to pop a rating. The Women's Tag Team Champions will both be in action but in separate matches that have potential to be the best wrestling matches of the event: Bayley will defend her SmackDown Women's Championship against Nikki Cross and Sasha Banks will challenge Asuka for the RAW Women's Championship.
The most controversial storyline of "The Horror Show At Extreme Rules" is Rey Mysterio looking for revenge on Seth Rollins in an "Eye For An Eye Match". It's hard for any sane person not to question why a publicly traded company will sanction a match where the "winner can only be determined by extracting the opponent's eye". The fact is that WWE has allowed so many illegal and immoral acts in the past, that this stipulation isn't completely out of the realm of their reality. Is it the best choice right now? The only way to find out is to see for ourselves. WWE gets the ratings reports and they see their YouTube Analytics: the numbers are down right now. The company is missing a majority of its top stars for a myriad of reasons.
WWE seems like they're trying something different with "The Horror Show At Extreme Rules". We're seeing a lot of people in new spots on the card right now. The women's division has provided amazing matches and shown that in spite of losing Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair, they have plenty of talent to carry WWE's programming. Drew McIntyre is growing into his role as WWE Champion and is carrying himself with a swagger that is convincing even without the presence of fans and the scale of a larger arena to enhance his image. Apollo Crews, MVP, & Bobby Lashley are finally in a storyline that fits their talents. The Superstars are aware that the company needs someone to step up and stand out. This should give viewers plenty to enjoy on Sunday.
Below is a preview of the card with predictions based upon recent booking. In the comments below share your picks and which Superstars are connecting with you right now.
Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler
Ziggler to reveal stipulation at the PPV.
Fresh off of giving Bobby Lashley his best match in a year, Drew McIntyre now must take on another face from his past: Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler and McIntyre teamed in 2018 and held the Tag Team Championships for a spell. After recently being traded to RAW, Ziggler demanded McIntyre give him a title shot. There is a logical disconnect for fans reacting to this feud: Ziggler hasn't won a singles match since April and before that he hadn't won a singles match since August. Ziggler's recent win/loss record suggests that he shouldn't be anywhere near the WWE Championship at the moment.
When the bell rings, Dolph Ziggler is one of the best wrestlers in WWE and his brief feud with McIntyre at the end of 2018 resulted in some good matches. The two know each other well and will come up with something entertaining for us to watch in spite of the match feeling thrown together. McIntyre will pick up the victory here and continue his growth as the top guy on RAW.
Drew McIntyre regardless of stipulation
WWE RAW WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP
Asuka (c) vs. Sasha Banks
Inspired by Bayley "Dos Belts", Sasha Banks is looking to add to her collection of gold by challenging Asuka for the RAW Women's Championship. Asuka has only faced Banks once in 2018 on RAW in an excellent 12-minute TV match. Both of these women were the hottest female act in wrestling at different points in their career and this will be their first PPV match against one another. Here's hoping they steal the show and remind the audience that before Charlotte and Becky were the top stars of the women's division, The Boss and The Empress of Tomorrow were the top ladies.
When the bell rings, expect Sasha to employ every dirty trick she learned from idolizing Eddie Guerrero to get an advantage over the dominant Asuka. Sasha's story seems like it belongs linked to Bayley right now more than it belongs with Asuka. Asuka will get the win here but hopefully we'll see these two in a proper feud somewhere down the road.
Asuka via submission
WWE SMACKDOWN WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP
Bayley (c) vs. Nikki Cross
Nikki Cross defeated her tag team partner, Alexa Bliss, Dana Brooke & Lacey Evans in a Fatal 4-Way Match to earn a shot at Bayley's SmackDown Women's Championship. Bayley has been the biggest obstacle in Nikki Cross's WWE career for the past year. Whenever Cross builds momentum, Bayley is there to stop her. That was the case when Bayley was the sweet, hugger that fans loved and it happened once again since Bayley adopted her new attitude when she & Sasha defeated Nikki & Alexa for the Women's Tag Team Championships.
It was emphasized multiple times on SmackDown that Nikki Cross has never won singles gold in WWE, but Bayley's run right now is just too good to end. This developing story of Bayley being a roadblock to success for Nikki is really enticing. Hopefully they come back to this soon, but Bayley and Sasha are linked. Their relationship will change if they lose the Tag Team Championships. Nikki is doing excellent work with the added time she's getting on TV in and outside of the ring. Nikki Cross can and will be a great singles champion in WWE, but Bayley's story is too good right now to take the belt off of her.
Bayley via pinfall
WWE US CHAMPIONSHIP
Apollo Crews (c) vs. MVP
An unexpected MVP of RAW programming since COVID has been... MVP. In every segment MVP has risen above and beyond expectations and now finds himself in one of the best feuds of his career. As MVP has been looking to build a stable of talent that he can manage to success, he attempted to recruit the newly-crowned United States Champion, Apollo Crews. When Crews rebuffed MVP's offer, the former two-time United States Champion distracted Crews allowing Shelton Benjamin to attack Crews from behind. MVP defeated Crews the next week on RAW in a non-title match with the help of Bobby Lashley. On the July 6th RAW, MVP debuted the new United States Championship belt that will be awarded to the winner of their match at Extreme Rules.
Crews and MVP work great together. Their first match was on the April 20th RAW in a short match but an exciting victory for Crews. Lashley will get involved here, but Crews will escape with the win. Lashley and Crews seem destined to collide as Lashley is looking to capitalize on the momentum he's got after a very good title match with Drew McIntyre at Backlash. Kudos to MVP for stepping up and making the most of his minutes on TV. Hopefully he sticks around as a manager/competitor for the foreseeable future.
Apollo Crews via pinfall
WYATT SWAMP FIGHT (NON-TITLE MATCH)
WWE Universal Champion Braun Strowman vs. Bray Wyatt
Braun Strowman defeated Wyatt at Money In The Bank using his old Black Sheep mask from when he was a member of The Wyatt Family to distract his former leader. Wyatt is back to torment Strowman, but this time he isn't the happy children's show host, he's the old Bray Wyatt that debuted in 2013.
This is our first time back at the Wyatt Family compound since Randy Orton burned it down. Braun Strowman will defeat Bray Wyatt in this Swamp Fight. He's displayed plenty of growth in all phases of what it takes to be a Superstar, but Strowman will never get rid of Wyatt until he faces The Fiend.
EYE FOR AN EYE MATCH
Rey Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins
Since losing to Kevin Owens at WrestleMania 36 and the announcement of Becky Lynch's pregnancy, Seth Rollins has been spiraling. He pulled off one victory over Aleister Black, but has lost control over everything that used to make Seth Rollins successful. Rollins used to be known as "The Architect" but right now he's all emotion. That emotion led to him gouging out Rey Mysterio's eye on the corner of the ring steps. Seth lost another match this past week on RAW to Kevin Owens. Rollins is feeling tremendous pressure to return to the top of the card for his unborn child, for his followers, and for his personal identity. After Rollins attempted to gouge out Mysterio's son Dominik's eye, Mysterio challenged Rollins to this match where the "winner can only be determined by extracting the opponent's eye".
Rollins has never had a proper feud with Rey Mysterio and this is likely a dream opponent for him. Reports of Dominik training to debut as a competitor for WWE keep popping up suggesting that Mysterio wants to pass the torch to his son soon. This stipulation is one of the wackiest stipulations in wrestling history. We've never seen a match where the goal is to extract your opponent's eye before. This match will likely feature the most brawling that Rey Mysterio has ever done in his career. This feels way out of his wheelhouse, but we really don't know because we've never seen anything like this before. Let's hope this "Horror Show" keeps things exciting and isn't too hokey.
Seth Rollins via Eye Extraction
SmackDown Tag Team Title Tables Match
The New Day vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro
Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro have been paired together since their trio with Sami Zayn got interrupted by COVID. The two seem to enjoy each other's company as Nakamura dips his toes in the WWE Tag Team division. Nakamura got the victory in a great match with Kofi on last week's SmackDown and Cesaro defeated Big E last night on SmackDown to earn this rematch for the tag team titles. This trend of beating the current champion in a non-title match to earn a title shot has been done to death over the past couple years of WWE booking. Hopefully they can find some new ways of anointing challengers than this repetitive formula.
The match should be a ball. Cesaro is one of the greatest tag team wrestlers of all time and The New Day is one of the greatest tag teams of all time. Nakamura is a bit out of place here, but the other three will make sure he's in a position to succeed in this match. The New Day have been the most consistently entertaining act in WWE for almost 6 years. Tables matches favor clever wrestlers and The New Day have been one of the most clever/sneaky forces in WWE since their inception. The New Day will be SmackDown Tag Team Champions going into SummerSlam.
The New Day via Tables