(CBS Philadelphia/CBS Local) — It’s fitting that WWE Extreme Rules is taking place in Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love is thought of as the home of extreme wrestling, after all. And while WWE in 2019 is a far cry from the original Extreme Championship Wrestling, Sunday’s pay-per-view will still have a few of its hardcore calling cards. There are extreme(ish) stipulations, and some elements of the show will feature the fingerprints of the genius behind ECW, Paul Heyman, as he continues settling into his behind-the-scenes role as executive director of RAW. And should he appear on camera in his role as Brock Lesnar’s loyal advocate, the crowd at The Wells Fargo Center may greet him with the biggest pop of the night, given the local connection.
This year’s show is built around the return of The Undertaker, who will be teaming with Roman Reigns to take on Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre. The future WWE Hall of Famer will be looking to bounce back from a lackluster match against Goldberg last month at Super Showdown while reportedly planting the seeds for another match in the future.
In the co-main event, double gold will be on the line, as Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch put the Universal and RAW Women’s Championships on the line in a winner take all match against Baron Corbin and Lacey Evans. This is the first time that I can recall both men’s and women’s tiles being on the line in the same match.
Elsewhere on the card, the recent reunion of AJ Styles and Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson adds a layer of intrigue to Styles’ match against Ricochet for the United States Championship, and the ongoing drama between Alexa Bliss, Nikki Cross and Bayley has breathed new life into the SmackDown Women’s Championship picture.
Here is a look at the full card along how things might play out.
No Holds Barred Match
The Undertaker & Roman Reigns vs. Shane McMahon & Drew McIntyre
While it’s time for the Reigns-McMahon feud to be put to bed, The Dead Man and Scottish Psychopath appear to just bet getting started. A report last month in Sports Illustrated stated that McIntyre was among the opponents hand-picked by The Undertaker, himself. If those two are indeed destined for a potential showdown at SummerSlam, I would expect for the finish to involve either McMahon and Reigns or both, thus preserving a fresh finish for Undertaker and McIntyre in Toronto. As for the winner here? Look for the favorites to come out on top. Pick: The Undertaker & Roman Reigns
Winners Take All Mixed Tag Team Extreme Rules Match
Universal Champion Seth Rollins & RAW Women’s Champion Becky Lynch vs. Baron Corbin & Lacey Evans
The stipulation in this match is interesting. If Lacey Evans pins Becky Lynch, Baron Corbin would become Universal Champion. Likewise, if Corbin pins Seth Rollins, Evans would become the RAW Women’s Champion. However, if WWE’s real life “it couple” retains, Corbin and Evans would be banned from receiving a title opportunity in the future. Well, don’t expect an upset here, but also don’t expect that part about not receiving a future title shot to stand either. Time has a way of erasing history in pro wrestling. Rollins and Lynch are the faces of the company, and having them lose to the controversial Corbin and Evans, who is still trying to find her way, would be a massive mistake WWE won’t make. That’s not to say they’ll get buried either. Pick: Seth Rollins & Becky Lynch
Kofi Kingston (c) vs. Samoa Joe
An injury to the champion may throw this match off just a little bitch. Kingston is entering the show with a banged up back, according to PWInsider, and has been held out of action leading up to Sunday as a precaution. The expectation is that he will be able to go against Samoa Joe, but it’s unclear how limited he will be physically. Regardless, it’s unlikely at this point that Kingston will be dropping the title prior to SummerSlam. Look for Samoa Joe to stay looking strong but come up short. That could very well mean a disqualification or post-match beatdown of the champ. Also, don’t completely rule out a Brock Lesnar Money In The Bank contract cash-in here. Pick: Kofi Kingston
SmackDown Women’s Championship 2-on-1 Handicap Match
Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross
A title change isn’t out of the realm of possibility in this match. At the center of the storyline is the gullibility of Nikki Cross, who continues to do Alexa Bliss’ bidding with blinders on. Eventually those two will have a feud of their own that will likely be for the title. But before that, their union will need to strengthen. And the best way for that to happen would be for them to team up again. WWE has planted the seeds for Sasha Banks to make a long-awaited return, as Cross has called for Bayley to find a loyal friend of her own. Look for Bliss to win the title here, Banks to return, those two teams to face each other before Bayley and Sasha switch gears and focus on recapturing the women’s tag team championship while Bliss and Cross battle it out between themselves. If Banks doesn’t return here, it should be sometime in the near future. Also, like Kingston, Bliss is heading into Sunday less than 100 percent. She was held off of television this week due to an illness, which forced a late change to creative plans. Pick: Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Triple Threat Match
Daniel Bryan & Rowan (c) vs. Big E & Xavier Woods vs. Heavy Machinery
There is a part of me that thinks WWE is coming close to pulling the trigger on a big push for Heavy Machinery. Daniel Bryan and Rowan are favored to retain but Tucker and Otis aren’t too far behind, while The New Day are considered longshots to become six-time tag team champions. Those odds seem just about right, and I expect the champions will retain. Whether Heavy Machinery receives a push after Eric Bischoff takes over as executive director of SmackDown will be something to keep an eye on. Pick: Daniel Bryan & Rowan
United States Championship
Ricochet (c) vs. AJ Styles
Although listed as a singles bout, this is essentially a three-on-one handicap match thanks to the reunion of The Club. Gallows and Anderson will factor into this one prominently and should help lift Styles to his first United States Championship. On paper, this match has the makings of a classic before chaos ensues, so sit back and enjoy it. Pick: AJ Styles
WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Drew Gulak (c) vs. Tony Nese
The cruiserweights have been getting a lot of love from the main roster of late, as a number of talents have been praising 205 Live on social media. Because the show airs on WWE Network, it only receives a small fraction of viewers that RAW and SmackDown enjoy, despite the product being superior in many weeks. Thus, crowds are often dead for cruiserweight matches, which is a shame. Look for Gulak to retain in what should be a very entertaining bout. Hopefully, the live crowd in Philadelphia will be kind to them. #Give205LiveAChance. Pick: Drew Gulak
Last Man Standing Match
Braun Strowman vs. Bobby Lashley
Ordinarily a last man standing match between Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley wouldn’t get most fans excited. But after Strowman and Lashley crashed through the LED boards at RAW a couple weeks ago, people are starting to take notice. WWE has kept Strowman out of action since then, explaining that he suffered a “ruptured spleen” in the violent collision. It’s a solid storyline to generate interest in the match. It will be interesting to see how The Monster Among Men and The All Mighty try to top their spot on RAW. Pick: Braun Strowman
RAW Tag Team Championship
The Revival vs. The Usos
History isn’t on the side of The Revival for this one. Defending champions have lost the titles four out of the last five times they’ve been defended at Extreme Rules, dating back to before the belts became exclusive to the RAW brand. Still, it’s good to see The Revival finally get some time in the sun after falling out of the spotlight for a while. There had been reports that Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson were looking to exit WWE when their contracts expire because they were frustrated with the way they were being used. Perhaps this run has changed their minds. Hopefully, for WWE’s sake, it will also be enough to keep them around after they lose the titles. Pick: The Usos
Aleister Black vs. Cesaro
After months of vignettes, this is the first we’ll see of the new incarnation of Aleister Black in the ring. It was revealed on Tuesday’s SmackDown that Cesaro was the man who answered Black’s open challenge, which presents somewhat of a problem in picking the match, as The Swiss Cyborg is also in the midst of a character reboot. Of the two, the veteran Cesaro can afford a loss more than Black, who is trying to establish himself as a singles competitor on the main roster for the first time. A loss would hurt his chances of gaining traction moving forward, so let’s not do that. Pick: Aleister Black
Chuck Carroll is former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented Robert Griffin III with a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.
Follow him on Twitter @ChuckCarrollWLC.