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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 19 July 2018

Roman Reigns beats Bobby Lashley as Ronda Rousey and The Miz both interfere in title matches: WWE Extreme Rules lowdown and predictions

New champions to be crowned as Asuka wins SmackDown Women's title and Shinsuke Nakamura claims the United States Championship 

Roman Reigns will beat Bobby Lashley at WWE Extreme Rules. Image courtesy of WWE
Roman Reigns will beat Bobby Lashley at WWE Extreme Rules. Image courtesy of WWE

Ahead of Sunday's WWE Extreme Rules network special, which is being held at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, here is a rundown on the card and what to watch for.

The show is available on the WWE Network, which can be be watched via OSN Sports, with the action starting from 3am UAE time on Monday morning.

Roman Reigns to beat Bobby Lashley in a singles match

Why? This is essentially an unofficial No 1 contenders match for the Universal Championship. It is still unclear when Brock Lesnar will actually deign us with his presence in a WWE ring again as his return to UFC becomes more of a reality.

If it is SummerSlam, which is in August, then realistically the winner of this has to be the man to go and face him.

WWE abandoned putting the title on Reigns at WrestleMania 34 due, it appears, to fears over a negative reaction from the New Orleans crowd.

That situation has not changed much, largely because the same booking issues with Reigns still stand. Comes across as arrogant when not surrounded by his Shield brothers and there is little reason to cheer someone booked so strong.

Lashley has had his best reactions since his return to WWE in this feud, largely because of the crowd's dislike of the man he is stood in the ring with.

Given the WWE's booking policy of keeping Reigns strong at all costs, he wins here and he and Lashley shake hands post-match in a show of respect.

It does not solve the Roman Reigns problem, but the WWE are so far down the road with him that him not being the man who defeats Lesnar for the Universal title will be a massive blow for him.

Where Lashley goes after this is hard to know, but Reigns is off to the main event of SummerSlam in all likelihood.

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AJ Styles retains the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Rusev

Why? This feels like a filler feud for Styles ahead of SummerSlam.

As over as Rusev is with the crowd this feels like a temporary run in the main event scene for the Bulgarian brute.

Styles retains and moves on while Rusev heads back to the midcard.

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Asuka to win the SmackDown Women's Championship from Carmella

Why? Asuka has to win this match. Having lost at WrestleMania to Charlotte Flair, with her streak ending, and then losing to Carmella at Money in the Bank, she is in danger of becoming just another talent and the momentum she had from NXT wasted.

Having James Ellsworth in a shark tank above the ring hints at some nefarious tactics from Carmella. But she won last month and having her chase the belt would do her no harm.

Carmella has done well as champion, at least as a character. She is limited in the ring and there is considerably more upside to Asuka taking on all comers with the belt around her waist.

Alexa Bliss retains the Raw Women's title in an extreme rules match against Nia Jax

Why? No way is Bliss losing here. She just regained the title from Jax with a successful cash in at Money in the Bank.

What this match will do is set up a triple threat at SummerSlam, with Ronda Rousey as the third part.

Rousey is suspended for attacking Bliss and Kurt Angle, the Raw General Manager, but she will be ringside on Sunday, something that Jax thinks is to her advantage.

Instead what will happen is Rousey will try and attack Bliss, when provoked at some point, leading to her accidentally hitting Jax and allowing Bliss to retain.

Bliss remains as champion, Jax has a reason to be upset, and Rousey remains central to the story and leads to Bliss v Jax v Rousey at SummerSlam.

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Dolph Ziggler to retain the Intercontinental title against Seth Rollins in a 30-minute Iron Man Match

Why? Hard one to call this. Rollins has been sensational in the ring of late and really should be in the main event scene.

That has been blocked off with the absence of Lesnar, but he has made the Intercontinental matter on Raw with a string of good matches.

This feud could go on, and for that reason Ziggler retains, with the help of Drew McIntyre.

The Ziggler/McIntyre dynamic is good and having Ziggler rely heavily on the Scotsman will build a good story arc in the months ahead.

Shinsuke Nakamura to win the United States Championship against Jeff Hardy

Why? After failing to win the WWE title from AJ Styles, Nakamura needs a big win.

Winning the US title gives him that and a place in the top of the midcard, with his new heel role, feels right.

Hardy can chase the belt, or even move up towards the main event scene in the months ahead.

Braun Strowman to beat Kevin Owens in a steel cage match

Why? The WWE need to find something serious for Strowman to do, and quickly, or they risk wasting his momentum.

Having him terrorise Owens has been fun, but it feels like it is filler and that is because it is.

Strowman is the hottest singles act in WWE right now. He is charismatic, fun and most importantly does astonishing feats of strength.

It should be he, not Reigns, dethroning Lesnar, but hey, it is what it is, and this should be a comfortable win.

Baron Corbin to beat Finn Balor in a singles match

Why? The WWE seem lost on what to do with Balor. More than a year after his return from injury he is still stuck in the midcard and has no direction.

Balor wins here, primarily as WWE need strong heels for when Reigns inevitably wins the title, and for all of his blandness as a character, Corbin is an intimidating character in the ring and is disliked by crowds enough Reigns may well get cheers.

The Bludgeon Brothers retain the SmackDown Tag Team titles against Team Hell No

Why? Having Daniel Bryan and Kane back together again has been great, but this is feeler.

The teaser for what was to come came on Tuesday when Miz taunted Bryan during a segment on Miz TV.

Bryan and Kane have the match won, but Miz interferes and denies them the title.

This sets up the start of a Miz v Bryan rivalry that starts at SummerSlam and will likely end at WrestleMania 35.

Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt retain the Raw Tag Team titles against Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel

Why? This has been a harmless enough feud, but it has been forgettable fare.

The Raw tag scene is rather bereft at the moment and Hardy and Wyatt retain here to keep their lukewarm reign going.

Sanity to win a Tables Match against The New Day

Why? Sanity are new to the main roster and need a big win.

New Day will lose nothing by being defeated here, and this could be the start of a really fun feud over the next couple of months.