It makes me understand why Jack Nicholson went insane in The Shining. Man, that's a classic film - best horror movie of all time, if I...may be so bold. Seeing the world's second-coolest Jack running around, wielding an axe, pupils fixed subtly beneath his upper eyelids, it's a thrilling watch time and time again. And quotable! I'd quote it more if it didn't make the people around me feel slightly unnerved.
Extreme Rules and The Shining, it's a match made in heaven. It may seem at times like the endless bogs of WWE programming have gotten the better of me, but only for the moment, dear reader - only for the moment.
Check out Adam and Ross' predictions for the event below. The loser, of course, must do some Wrestling Roleplay Phone Sex... there are no words.
11. The New Day Vs. SAnitY
"I just happen to have two twenties and two tens right here in my wallet. I was afraid they were going to be there until next April."
I think the first SAnitY vignettes on SmackDown began airing back when Dolph Ziggler was still dressed as a male cheerleader. At least, it certainly felt that way, given how long it took for the three to pop up on the show. As far as this match goes, despite the tacked-on gimmick to try and mine the most out of the pay per view's no-rules motif, it's a Kickoff match, so there's going to be a mid-match commercial break and about one-fifth of the crowd will still be filing in. Good times! As for a pick, let's go with Sanity, since they're new, and could use the win. New Day definitely needs something to sink their teeth into aside from the unfunny pancake jokes. That shtick's so tired and worn that it practically has mono.
10. Bludgeon Brothers Vs. Team Hell No
"Come and play with us. Come and play with us, Danny. Forever... and ever... and ever."
I'll be going to see Metallica in October and, like most Metallica fans, I'll be itching for them to play the classics, be it Battery or For Whom the Bell Tolls, or even one of their old covers like Am I Evil?. That sort of expectation for "classics" doesn't exactly apply to wrestling, as Bryan teams with a man he partnered with six years ago, to rekindle a feud with two men he and his partner separately feuded with five years ago (it's sheer divine coincidence that The Grady Twins were calling out a "Danny/Daniel" in that scene). But since Kane's a few weeks away from gaining a mayorship, and giving a Bryan a title reign (even a throwaway midcard one) would make the fans happy, a victory for both would garner publicity for different reasons. So yeah, that.
PICK: Hell No
9. Deleters Of Worlds Vs. The B-Team
"God, I'd give anything for a drink. I'd give my god-damned soul for just a glass of beer."
The first time that Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas imitated Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt, it was pretty amusing (especially Bo's precociously-tiny lantern - it's unfathomably adorable). But when WWE made their awkward impression the entirety of the B-Team gimmick, it lost its luster quickly. I mean, how many times is the audience supposed to sit there deathly silent where Curtis Axel makes bug-eyes on the Tron? DX impersonating the Nation in 1998 was hilarious, but imagine if Road Dogg dressed as D-Lo *every* week - you'd be groaning eventually, right? I'll go with the Deleters here, because even though the B-Team's streak has been played up, the fact that their gimmick is impersonating their opponents tells me that WWE doesn't have much else for them. Shame, because I was looking forward to seeing Axel's weaksauce Backpack Kid dance again.
PICK: Hardy and Wyatt
8. Finn Balor Vs. Baron Corbin
"How are things going, Mr. Torrance?"
"Things could be better, Lloyd. Things could be a whole lot better."
The most disturbing Finn Balor related fan fiction you could possibly find on Tumblr would probably constitute a better use of Balor than to merely have him smiling for no reason, while half-heartedly making fun of Corbin's clothes. While it's great to see Bruce Vilanch find work again as Balor's personal joke writer, you and I both know that there are much better ways that Balor can be used, character-wise. As for this match, I'd figure he gets the win, maybe by DQ, since Corbin will always have heat as Kurt Angle's smirking ombudsman. That way, if it's a DQ, you have five more weeks to get excited about Balor and Corbin at SummerSlam. Maybe somewhere in those five weeks, Balor can give us some really riveting remarks about Corbin's shoes.
7. Jeff Hardy Vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
"Has it ever occurred to you what would happen to my future, if I were to fail to live up to my responsibilities? Has it ever occurred to you? Has it?"
God, Nakamura almost *has* to win this match, doesn't he? You know things are bad when AJ Styles' victory over Nak at Money in the Bank not only served as assurance that his long reign would continue for another month, but also delivered one of the best main-roster matches of 2018, and people were more apt to say: "Nakamura didn't win the belt! This is BS!"
Other than winning the Royal Rumble, Nakamura's main roster run from a character standpoint has been a bust to fans who put a lot of stock in him, and this is as good a place as any to stem that tide. It's not the World title, but eh.
6. Carmella Vs. Asuka
"Mr. Torrance, I see you hardly have taken care of the business we discussed."
"No need to rub it in, Mr. Grady."
Even though the James Ellsworth 'run in' at the end of the at Money in the Bank title match lasted about as long as most hurricane seasons, I'm happy to see the hapless punching bag make his return. Carmella's at her best with the bumbling boy toy, though I'd have to think that after two bad pay per view matches in a row, Carmella's time may be short. Ellsworth can escape the Mattel-approved Shark Cage somehow, but still accidentally cost 'Mella the gold, mollifying the Asuka contingent. Then they'll say: "But Asuka couldn't even win without botched interference!" and that'll be a whole other bone of contention. But alas.
5. Alexa Bliss Vs. Nia Jax (Extreme Rules Match)
"I and others have come to a belief that your heart is not in this."
Initially, I wanted to use the movie Groundhog Day as the basis for my Extreme Rules comparison quotes, since the past month of Raw has apparently been the same episode remixed four different ways. The predictability of those Raws even inspired me to create a bingo card for this past week's show featuring hypothetical scenarios, and I managed to nail 16 out of 25 of them. Bliss vs. Jax, while a placeholder before we get to Bliss/Rousey at SummerSlam, is still a warmed-over retread, even in stopgap form, and hasn't done much to dispel Raw's persistent holding pattern. So Bliss gets the win, with Ronda either accidentally costing Nia, or attacking Bliss after the match. At least Ronda will be a needed breath of fresh air.
4. Dolph Ziggler Vs. Seth Rollins
"I'm sorry to differ with you sir, but you are the caretaker. You've always been the caretaker. I should know sir. I've always been here."
Although this current IC reign is only Ziggler's second as a heel (three of them came as a babyface in the latter half of 2014), it feels like a spot he's been in a million times before - the cocky heel secondary champion. Of course, he did also have two reigns as a heel US Champion, so maybe that accounts for my hazy memories. Either way, Ziggler in this role feels at least somewhat rejuvenated, especially with the intriguing McIntyre at his side, and this match is probably being counted on as the show-stealer. That's a risky assumption to make, given that past Iron Man matches (even the30-minute variety) sometimes lose the crowd early, as the fans know the match won't be over for a while, and don't invest as much. Here's hoping it lives up to higher expectations. As for a prediction, I'll say it ends in a draw, just so we can get the inevitable SummerSlam rematch. At least that one won't be encumbered by a static clock.
3. Braun Strowman Vs. Kevin Owens
"Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in! Not by the hair of your chiny-chin-chin? Well then I'll huff and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in!"
Owens won't have the Snowcat to save him, since Braun's rampage of humiliation is bound to continue. Some people don't get the angle, and think it's just Strowman bullying Owens to be a dick, but I've thought of it as Strowman enjoying sadistic, repeated revenge for Owens trying to conspire behind Strowman's back in order to take him out at Money in the Bank. Of course, that would imply that WWE has a knack for subtle storytelling, and it could well just be Vince getting his jollies watching the muscleman embarrass the fat guy. Either way, I'm giving this to Strowman, in a manner that involves an impressive feat of strength *and* Owens looking like a chump in slapstick fashion. Shoot for the stars, that's what I always say.
2. AJ Styles Vs. Rusev
"I like you, Lloyd. I always liked you. You were always the best of them. Best goddamned bartender from Timbuktu to Portland, Maine. Or Portland, Oregon, for that matter!"
I don't know that WWE intended to keep their main championship around the waist of Styles for as long as they have, but it's a welcome arrangement. Granted, it hasn't been the most prolific reign, due to Styles having just one one-on-one title defense in this current reign serve as a pay-per-view main event (vs. Jinder at Clash of Champions in December), and WWE logic dictates that Roman > the top belt, but through Stockholm Syndrome, I've almost grown to accept that as "fine". I wouldn't count on Styles/Rusev going last either, but at least the inevitable Styles victory will continue his eight-and-a-half month run. And since he's among the very best that the industry has to offer, it's a reign he deserved. Just let him headline once in a while, if you don't mind.
1. Roman Reigns Vs. Bobby Lashley
"I feel you will have to deal with this matter in the harshest possible way, Mr. Torrance."
"There's nothing I look forward to with greater pleasure, Mr. Grady."
Beach balls, Mexican wave, chants for other wrestlers/ endeavours, and beating the 11 PM Sunday night Pittsburgh traffic - that could be a bingo game unto itself. Despite remixing Lashley's music into something that the T-800 would proudly march through the digital wasteland to, there's no sense in getting your hopes up for this match: it's going to be compromised by the crowd doing whatever the hell they want to do ("We paid hundreds for these tickets, money that goes directly into WWE's pocket! We'll show 'em!"). That's kind of a shame, because Reigns/Lashley could be the sort of highly-physical slugfest that would excite most crowds, but that scarlet letter upon Reigns' Kevlar vest ain't washing off any time soon. But he's being kept strong for that Lesnar showdown (whenever the hell it is), so Lashley's going to eat the pin. But at least Bobby has that WrestleMania that he (didn't) main event to look back on.