WWE Extreme Rules will actually be extreme this year in Philadelphia, the birthplace of ECW.
In 2021, there was a total of one Extreme Rules matchup on the card. This year, every match has some stipulation attached to it -- which is exactly what you want for an event that is supposed to pay at least some kind of tribute to Extreme Championship Wrestling.
We've got an old-school strap match, an "I Quit" match, a ladder match and even a "Fight Pit" match. All of those should produce profoundly different looks and feels. It's a well-built card with tremendous performers, all in feuds that warrant something more than just a standard match. Good stuff, Triple H.
Roman Reigns isn't performing on the card, but Liv Morgan is defending her SmackDown women's title against Ronda Rousey in an Extreme Rules match and Bianca Belair's Raw women's title will be suspended high above Wells Fargo Center for a ladder match against Bayley.
Meanwhile, Seth Rollins and Matt Riddle will potentially settle an intense rivalry inside a Fight Pit, which touches on Riddle's experience as an MMA fighter. Daniel Cormier, the former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion, will act as an extremely (ahem) appropriate special guest referee.
Let's break down each match, predict the victors, and offer what could come next for the wrestlers.
Fight Pit match: Seth Rollins vs. Matt Riddle (Special guest ref: Daniel Cormier)
Former UFC Heavyweight Champion @dc_mma, who was recently named special guest referee for @SuperKingofBros vs. @WWERollins Inside the Fight Pit, lays out his expectations for #ExtremeRules!#WWERaw pic.twitter.com/9WxlXV86A5— WWE (@WWE) October 5, 2022
This program has gotten deeply personal between both characters, with Rollins bringing up real-life issues Riddle is apparently having outside the ring. That first came up last month in a split-screen segment that was an homage to a high-profile, 2014 satellite interview with UFC fighters Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier. So, it's only fitting that Cormier, the former UFC double champion and one of the best in MMA of all time, was brought in as the special referee of what will essentially be an MMA-style Fight Pit match.
Add in Cormier's connections with Rollins (they're real-life friends) and Riddle (they are both former UFC fighters) and it was a no-brainer that "DC" was tabbed. One would imagine Riddle's MMA pedigree will give him the edge in such a match. Rollins beat him at Clash at the Castle, so let's say Riddle evens the series here with Cormier getting involved in some way. The Rollins vs. Riddle feud could continue, though Rollins and Bobby Lashley -- another former MMA fighter and stud amateur wrestler -- have been intertwined in a story on Raw, as well. The machinations of multiple stories going on with a single character at one time have been a positive of the Triple H era.
Prediction: Matt Riddle def. Seth Rollins with inadvertent assistance from Daniel Cormier
SmackDown women's championship: Liv Morgan (c) vs. Ronda Rousey (Extreme Rules match)
Rousey seems like she's gotten into a solid rhythm of late, shaking some of the rust from her return earlier this year. It helps that WWE under Triple H has given her more of an edge. Rousey is now playing a version of herself that she was in the UFC. Nobody benefits from a white-meat babyface Rousey cutting long promos in the ring. A mean, violent, short-fused Rousey with a code is the way to go and it seems like that's what they're going here for now. Morgan has been getting a mixed reaction, which makes little sense because it seemed like the fanbase badly wanted her to succeed and now she's the champion. Fickle, as a former planet's greatest champion, would say.
Rousey is poised for a victory here and potentially a long reign with the title until WrestleMania. At some point, WWE should go for a Rousey program with her longtime friend and former MMA training partner Shayna Baszler. The two would work hard to make it special. Maybe it happens here before a Rousey redemption arc? Maybe, but Rousey winning is a safer bet.
Prediction: Ronda Rousey def. Liv Morgan
Raw women's championship: Bianca Belair (c) vs. Bayley (Ladder match)
This should be a unique match. There have not been many women's singles ladder matches in pro-wrestling history. Both performers are excellent and complement each other well, so the expectation is that it will be a strong piece of business. Hopefully, Belair and Bayley will come out of it safely. There are likely big plans for both coming over the next few months.
It might not necessarily be too soon to take the belt off Belair, and one could be tempted to pick Bayley since she can win without pinning Belair's shoulders on the canvas. Of course, there's always the possibility of interference from Dakota Kai and IYO SKY. Asuka and Alexa Bliss should also be available to watch Belair's back. "The EST" should retain and this program should continue, perhaps until an eventual return from Sasha Banks and Naomi.
Prediction: Bianca Belair def. Bayley
Strap match: Drew McIntyre vs. Karrion Kross
This is Kross' first big test on a high-profile show since being brought back to WWE. McIntyre has been one of the most protected acts on the roster over the last few years -- and for good reason. He's credible, a tremendous performer and can be heated up into a crucial match at any time.
But if WWE is truly going to try and make Kross a star, he has to win here. If Triple H and company are not committed to doing that, why even bring Kross and Scarlett back? There is money in their act and perhaps Kross represents a legit threat for Roman Reigns between now and WrestleMania.
Prediction: Karrion Kross def. Drew McIntyre
"I Quit" match: Edge vs. Finn Balor
This match could steal the show. The build has been solid, though there are several other stories revolving around it -- the father-son Mysterios issues with Dominick joining Judgment Day and Balor's attempted recruitment of AJ Styles into the ground. One would imagine there will be some advancement in those two programs before a potential climax to the Edge vs. Judgment Day feud.
Is this where we get an appearance from the mysterious White Rabbit? It's as good a spot as any. Some of the social-media clues referred to Edge, Balor and Judgment Day.
Balor should win here if WWE wants to continue to have Judgment Day as a threat -- unless there is some intervention from a certain former cult leader or horror movie clown monster.
Prediction: Edge def. Finn Balor with intervention from White Rabbit
Good Old-Fashioned Donnybrook match: The Brawling Brutes vs. Imperium
Who wins this one? It doesn't really matter. It's going to be a banger.
Gunther and Sheamus had the best match of the night at Clash at the Castle and these two groups going head-to-head has been a lot of fun. Imperium should go over here to continue to cement itself as a strong unit.
Speaking of strong units, Gunther's physique continues to get more impressive. He has adapted better to the WWE main roster than anyone would have expected and has made for a terrific Intercontinental champion. One would expect more good matches from him as Triple H tries to rehabilitate the importance of the mid-card titles.
Prediction: Imperium def. The Brawling Brutes