Mansfield’s Matchups: WWE Extreme Rules 2022
It has been just over two months since Triple H has taken over as WWE Chief Content Officer and we are finally getting to his first, what we usually call, a “B-Level” PPV” in his tenure. But Triple H has made this anything but “B-Level”. In fact, this PLE might be Rated-R when all is said and done. Extreme Rules has been a PLE that a sizable crowd of voices in the IWC have been calling for either 1. The PLE to live up fully to its name or 2. Be discontinued, especially with the last two years Extreme Rules shows. To put things in perspective: not counting multi-man matches (such as Triple Threats or Fatal 4-Ways) that automatically come with No Disqualification and No Count Outs, this year’s Extreme Rules contains as many matches contested under stipulations as the last 2 combined. And OH BOY is this Extreme Rules card STACKED. This card may just be six matches (because thank you Peacock time restraints, you suck), plus an impending White Rabbit reveal, but each match means something, has story, has investment, and has STAKES! Multiple matches can easily lay claim to being the main event, and that is when you know you have a fantastically-built wrestling card. And on top of that, this PLE makes history in two ways: 1. It has the first 1 on 1 Women’s Championship Ladder Match in WWE history and 2. It is (as of this writing) only the 5th PPV/PLE in WWE history where the only championships being defended are Women’s Titles (the others being Royal Rumble 88 and 89, Evolution 2018, and WrestleMania Backlash 2022) and only the second to occur in the same calendar year. So, let’s get down to it!
SIX-MAN TAG TEAM GOOD OLD FASHIONED DONNYBROOK MATCH
Imperium (GUNTER, Ludwig Kaiser, and Giovanni Vinci) vs. The Brawling Brutes (Sheamus, Ridge Holland, and Butch).
In 2002, WWE had a set of amazingly talented Superstars known as the “SmackDown Six” (Kurt Angle, Edge, Rey Mysterio, C***s B*****t, and Eddie and Chavo Gurrero), that defined the tag team and singles scene at the time. In 2022, I will dare say we have a new SmackDown Six in the form of Imperium and the Brawling Brutes. These two teams have been at WAR with each other for the past few months, and have put on, as Sheamus would say, “Banger after banger after banger after banger” and so on and so forth. Sheamus vs. GUNTER at Clash at the Castle opened the show, and stole the show, earning it only WWE’s second main roster 5 star match rating from Dave Meltzer since CM Punk vs. John Cena at Money in the Bank 2011 (the other being Cody Rhodes vs. Seth Rollins at Hell in a Cell from this year also). These two teams are hell-bent on DESTROYING each other, and now for the first time, there will be nothing holding all 6 back from just letting everything out. Their previous 6 man tag, won by Imperium, absolutely ruled, and after Imperium cost the Brawling Brutes the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles against the Usos, the storyline absolutely called for another 6-man tag, this time on a larger stage with no rules and a lot of weapons. The first Donnybrook we saw was between Sheamus and Drew McIntyre in July, and that was phenomenal to watch. So, I do think that the Brawling Brutes come away with the win this time, especially after losing at Clash at the Castle and in the previous 6-man tag. I think it also may depend on who walks out of SmackDown as Intercontinental Champion as well, but that remains to be seen.
WINNERS – The Brawling Brutes
Karrion Kross (w/Scarlett) vs. Drew McIntyre
When Karrion Kross returned to WWE, it made EVERYONE sit up and take notice. Gone was the stupid samurai outfit with the absolutely atrocious booking and back was his proper entrance and his valet Scarlett. Back was this monstrous force that dominated NXT. Kross is presented as the #2 heel on SmackDown second only to Roman Reigns. Drew is the #1 babyface on SmackDown. Kross and Drew are both Triple H boys. This is Kross’s biggest match to date on the main roster, and just may make or break how fans view him going forward. Many are still trying to get the “Vince-ified” Karrion Kross out of their brains and the bad taste it left in all of our collective mouths, but Kross has been presented like a beast thus far. This is Drew’s first major feud since switching gears from Roman Reigns, so both guys are really going into this match with something to prove and big chips on their shoulders. But it’s clear that Karrion Kross absolutely needs the win here the most. If Triple H wants to continue to mold Kross into the dominant monster he was supposed to be upon his callup in 2021, then he can’t have Kross lose any momentum by a loss here. Drew, I think can afford a loss at this juncture and not be hurt too bad. Kross had his image destroyed by Vince that Triple H is still working to rebuild. If it wasn’t for that, we probably wouldn’t be as concerned as we are right now about him. Yes, the botched fireball spot was bad, but in Triple H’s capable hands, the sky’s the limit for Karrion Kross. This match will be brutal and should be a good showing for both men.
WINNER – Karrion Kross
“I QUIT” MATCH
Finn Balor w/The Judgment Day (Damian Priest, Dominik Mysterio, and Rhea Ripley) vs. Edge
Ever since Edge made his surprise return to WWE in 2020, Edge vs. Balor has been at the top of pretty much everyone’s fantasy match list. When Edge won the 2021 Royal Rumble and made an appearance in NXT the desire, at least for me, for this match increased 100 fold. And now, we’re finally getting it. While I think I would’ve preferred their first one on one encounter to have been a straight up singles match (we literally had about 3 months or so where we could’ve had it), an “I Quit” Match is what is called for with the storyline. Edge created Judgment Day, feuded with A.J. and Balor, brought Balor in, only for Balor to turn Judgment Day against Edge. I can’t see either of these two saying, “I quit”, so that adds even more suspense to the slobber knocker this match is going to be! Both Edge and Balor are in my all-time favorites list, so I just hope it lives up to the expectations. The interesting part is how the winner comes away with the win. Because I don’t see either really saying “I quit” at this point. Balor will have the full strength of Judgment Day at ringside with him, so their interference is about as guaranteed as a Michael Cole, “Ohhhh myyyy” whenever someone makes a big return. Either Judgment Day throws in the towel on Balor’s behalf or someone (A.J or Beth Phoenix) will throw in the towel on Edge’s behalf. Since Judgment Day lost the last two of its PLE matches, I don’t see how they can afford another loss. Plus a win over Edge will absolutely boost The Judgment Day’s stock. We could also see A.J. turning on Edge and joining Judgment Day after what happened on Raw. If that is the case, then Judgment Day NEEDS to start winning gold. It was already reported that Triple H has major plans for Finn Balor, so hopefully this is the start of that and his return to the world title picture.
WINNER – Finn Balor
FIGHT PIT MATCH
Seth “Freakin” Follins vs. Matt Riddle
SPECIAL GUEST REFEREE – Daniel Cormier
Oh boy Triple H is graduating his NXT toys to the main roster in a big way! There has not been this personal of a feud, kayfabe and shoot, in WWE in a very long time and it has made for some absolutely must-see television. From Seth bringing up Riddle’s wife leaving him and taking his kids, to Riddle bringing up Seth having not won gold in years and his wife having more success than him, add to that Seth Rollins flat out stating in a shoot interview that him and Matt just don’t get along, it has all the drama for an all out fight – which is exactly what we’re going to get! Only the second Fight Pit match in WWE history, the first one between Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher absolutely ruled and served as Riddle’s farewell match from NXT before being called up to SmackDown in the summer of 2020. And both matches so far have had special guest referees – which might give away who’s walking out of the Fight Pit still standing. In the first Fight Pit match between Riddle (the UFC Fighter) and Thatcher (the amatur wrestler), the special guest referee was WWE Hall of Famer and 1994 Olympic Amatur Wrestling Gold Medalist Kurt Angle. And the winner of that Fight Pit ended up being the wrestler. This time, the wrestler is Seth Rollins and the Special Guest Referee for this match is former UFC Heavyweight Champion and UFC Hall of Famer Daniel Cormier. So in all likelihood Riddle is winning this match to get his win back before we get one final bout between the two at Crown Jewel at the end of the month in [country redacted]. That will lead to Seth Rollins winning the United States Title on Raw from Bobby Lashley, and sets up Riddle perfectly as #1 Contender for the Title (and hopefully frees Lashley up for a match vs. Lesnar at Crown Jewel). Either way, these two are going to kill each other and it’s going to be fun to watch.
WINNER – Matt Riddle
EXTREME RULES MATCH FOR THE SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
Liv Morgan ( c ) vs. “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey
While normally the Extreme Rules match on the card is the one that should close out the night, I don’t think that will be the case this year. Both women’s matches absolutely could main event this PLE, and both deserve too, but this match will not. Now, WWE put Liv Morgan straight into the deep end with winning the Title vs. Ronda Rousey via Money in the Bank cash-in and then surviving Rousey in a rough match at SummerSlam with a screwy finish that just about turned everyone against her. And she has handled it like an absolute trooper! Rousey on the other hand is becoming the Stone Cold-type anti-hero and finally getting the fans behind her again. She has done her best promo work of her entire career. We know Liv can have a good match. We know Ronda can have a good match given the match conditions. So I expect a fairly decent kendo stick fight from these two. The question, obviously, is who walks out with the SmackDown Women’s Title around her waist? I think the answer depends on the wild card in this storyline, that being Shayna Baszler. If Shayna is out there at all during the match to support Ronda, there is no way Liv is walking out of there still champion after having to basically fight a Handicap Match against two of the 4 Horsewomen of UFC. If Shayna is not out there during the match, Liv, I think, can sneak out a win against the Baddest Woman on the Planet….but will then get destroyed by Shayna after the match. My official prediction for this match is also combined with looking ahead to the next PLE., so my official pick is Ronda Rousey wins the title back only for Shayna to turn on Rousey after the match, giving us Ronda Rousey vs. Shayna Baszler at Crown Jewel where Ronda can drop the title to her friend and take some time off. As much as I know people will be sad Liv’s title run will be ended, I think others have been wanting it to end since the shenanigans at SummerSlam, so this will be a sweet relief for them.
WINNER – Ronda Rousey (new champion)
LADDER MATCH FOR THE RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
Bianca Belair ( c) vs. Bayley w/Damage CTRL (Iyo Sky and Dakota Kai)
The first ever Women’s Ladder Match on the main roster for a major women’s championship is another history-making moment in women’s wrestling history in WWE. And they have two of the best possible choices for this match. Bianca Belair and Bayley were due to have an “I Quit” match at Money in the Bank in 2021 before Bayley was sidelined with an injury for over a year. Since SummerSlam these two have reignited their feud with Bayley having her new stable Damage CTRL behind her and Bianca having Asuka and Alexa Bliss behind her. Their 6-Woman Tag Team Match at Clash at the Castle ended in Bayley pinning Bianca (the first time Bianca had been pinned in months) to win the match and earn this title match. These 6 women have been main eventing Raw most weeks over the past month and a half and it’s not hard to see why. They have been putting on some great matches and Damage CTRL has been dominating the entire Raw women’s division. With Iyo and Dakota already WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions, it makes perfect sense for Bayley to win the Raw Women’s Championship and give her faction all the gold. Bayley has so often been the most overlooked of the 4 Horsewomen of WWE, but both her and Triple H are working hard to make sure that is no longer the case. On the other hand, even though Bianca has already beaten Bayley last year, it would continue to build up her own stock by retaining in this match and then go on to face the Horsewomen’s “Final Boss” in Charlotte Flair, who has been absent from TV following her storyline injury, marriage to the currently-attempting-to-get-fired-from-AEW Andrade El Idolo, and “personal reasons” according to Andrade. As much as I think Charlotte should go to SmackDown, she has vocally said she wants to face Bianca. It does make the most sense for Bianca to defend and beat the last of the 4 Horsewomen and what that would mean for her own status, but if that happens with the belt or not remains to be seen. Either way, I don’t see Charlotte returning tomorrow. With Asuka already injured after the attack on Raw and Bray Wyatt making his return to likely go after Alexa Bliss, that leaves Bianca to go it alone or outnumbered. Bayley and Damage CTRL walk out of Extreme Rules with all the gold (whether we FINALLY get Sasha Banks and Naomi returning is another question entirely, but as the weeks go by I’m less confident in it happening).
WINNER – Bayley (new champion)
WHO IS THE WHITE RABBIT?
Okay, so this White Rabbit thing. WWE has been amazing the past few weeks with teasing the return/debut of the “White Rabbit” by using little innuendos here and there and the QR codes that many fans have been decoding. Everything points to it being Bray Wyatt, especially with all the Twitter connections and references to old promos. Superstars themselves in WWE don’t even know who it is and are not being told but are all suspecting it to be Wyatt. WWE itself also pretty much confirmed it’s Wyatt with the announcement of the hiring of former Marvel and Disney writer Rob Fee as WWE Director of Longterm Creative. Fee, besides being the one behind everything with the QR codes, is a close friend of Bray Wyatt and was working before on a potential movie about The Fiend. If that isn’t a dead giveaway, I don’t know what is. If it turns out not to be Wyatt, Triple H better have a VERY good backup. Which I’m sure he knows. Personally, I just hope they get him right this time. I was never a big Fiend fan but it still remains to be seen just what kind of Bray Wyatt we’re going to be getting.
WHITE RABBIT – Bray Wyatt