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Predicting the match order at WWE Extreme Rules 2016

It's one thing to predict the winners and losers at WWE's Extreme Rules 2016, but how about taking a guess at the match order on that card?

WWE has announced 7 different matches for Extreme Rules 2016, excluding the pre-show match featuring Dolph Ziggler versus Baron Corbin.

Here is my subjective view of how important each of these 7 segments rank on the Extreme Rules 2016 card, ordered from most important to least important:

  1. Roman Reigns versus AJ Styles
  2. Dean Ambrose versus Chris Jericho
  3. Charlotte versus Natalya
  4. Miz versus Cesaro versus Owens versus Zayn
  5. Usos versus Gallows and Anderson
  6. New Day versus Vaudevillains
  7. Kalisto versus Rusev

It is important to come up with a list like this to get an idea of which matches are going to be placed in the key spots on the card or take up the most time, and which matches might end up in the cool-down spots or be given the least amount of time.  This list shows that if WWE decided to throw in a cool-down match between the biggest matches of the night, my best guess is that it will be either Kalisto's match or New Day's match.

Of course there is also the possibility that a currently unannounced filler match featuring a lower card tag team like Golden Truth is used for any cool-down spots late in the card.  I am going to ignore that scenario for Extreme Rules 2016, as pretty match all 7 of these matches feature workers who could theoretically wrestle for quite a long time.  In other words, this looks like a complete card to me, even with just 7 matches.

While some may argue that Natalya's match is more important than Jericho's match or that Kalisto's match is more important than New Day's match, I think the hardest one to find an appropriate ranking for is The Club's match with the Usos.  This match was announced very late, which usually means it isn't that important.  However this match has really strong ties to the main event match, possibly giving it great importance.  The booking of this match will probably have an effect on the main event in some form.

Segment Timing

To help take a stab at this, I sifted through my data on PPV match times that I have been recording since 2013.  I looked through the data to find all of the 3-hour events that were also comprised of 7 different segments.  I found 15 different events that fit this criteria; here is how the timing of the 7 segments broke down for those events:

These segment times are not limited to just bell-to-bell match times.  It includes all the entrances, pre-match hype videos, and post-match replays or celebrations. In-ring talking segments are also accounted for in these numbers.

Average Times / Median times

Segment 1: 19m 26s / 17m 33s
Segment 2: 16m 49s / 15m 31s
Segment 3: 20m 17s / 17m 55s
Segment 4: 22m 13s / 22m 50s
Segment 5: 21m 14s / 22m 53s
Segment 6: 15m 58s / 15m 16s
Segment 7: 35m 57s / 34m 40s

It is clear that Segments 2 and 6 generally receive less time than the others.  However, this could be greatly affected by the way the women were treated with low match times prior to the Divas Revolution.  Ever since the Divas Revolution started circa Battleground 2015, the times for Segments 1, 2, 3, and 6 converge much closer together, while Segments 4 and 5 still receive higher priority.  This is something I'll have to keep an eye on going forward.

Extreme Rules 2016 Segment Order

The opening match of the night is usually one of the high work rate medium-level attractions of the show that will not get a dedicated video package beforehand to hype it up.  There are 4 possible matches that fit the bill here.

The IC Fatal 4-Way is probably the best fit; it has several high work rate mid-card performers as well as a bunch of separate entrances that will give WWE plenty of time to introduce all of their commentary teams.

Gallows and Anderson could also be a good candidate for the opening spot, as the Tornado stipulation will provide the faster-paced tempo that WWE generally likes to open shows with.  There is also a chance that both teams could get involved in the main event match, so it might make sense to get their fight out of the way early so they have time to prepare for their role later on.  However there is also the possibility that WWE decides to run their match back-to-back with the main event, considering how closely those two matches are linked.

Last month I made the mistake of discounting Enzo Amore's tag team match as the opening match of the night because it ranked low on my list of match importance.  But Enzo is such a charismatic personality that his chance to open the show should never be completely discounted.  This logic applies to the New Day as well.  Even though their feud with Vaudevillains doesn't seem like an important part of this card, the New Day is so over that there is always a chance they could open the card.

On a different night I could see WWE opening a PPV card with Kalisto versus Rusev.  While I won't say they have zero chance to do it at Extreme Rules 2016, I think the importance of the US Title needs to be re-established to increase their chances.

Ultimately, I think the safest pick to open Extreme Rules 2016 out of the 4 candidates discussed above is the IC Fatal 4-Way.

Once that important decision is out of the way, I am going to make the easier decision of slotting Ambrose into Segment 4 and Natalya into Segment 5.  I actually do think there is a decent chance that the Asylum match falls into Segment 3 rather than Segment 4, but for now I am going to stick with the timing numbers I presented above and put the 2nd and 3rd most important matches of the night into Segments 4 and 5.

I am putting Natalya's match later in the night than Jericho's because I keep underestimating the women's slot on these PPV cards, so this time I am giving them the later spot on the card.  The fact that Natalya and Charlotte main evented Raw this week (with some McMahon involvement) also makes it a little easier to put them in a later segment than Ambrose and Jericho.

One other reason for this decision is that I think WWE might need a few extra minutes to clean up the ring after Jericho's match is over, and Natalya's pre-match segment should include one of those extended video packages that will give WWE a few extra minutes to do just that.

However I do think Ambrose and Jericho will receive more match time than Natalya and Charlotte, which is why I ranked the Asylum match as the second most important match of the night at the beginning of this article.

The easiest decision of the night is choosing Roman Reigns and AJ Styles as the main event match.  With that in mind, here is my currently constructed card:

Segment 1: Miz versus Cesaro versus Owens versus Zayn
Segment 2:
Segment 3:
Segment 4: Dean Ambrose versus Chris Jericho
Segment 5: Charlotte versus Natalya
Segment 6:
Segment 7: Roman Reigns versus AJ Styles

Two out of the three remaining matches are tag team matches, and WWE probably isn't going to run back-to-back tag team matches in Segments 2 and 3.  Therefore I need to figure out which tag team match makes more sense for Segment 6.

Will WWE run some sort of angle that transitions from The Club's match in Segment 6 straight into the main event?  This is where my sense of WWE's booking affects how I will arrange the matches.  My best guess is that WWE will run that match earlier in the night, perhaps with The Club injuring the Usos and taking them out of the mix for the main event.  This could lead to a backstage segment where Styles congratulates his buddies for winning but then tells them to let him fight the main event on his own, teasing The Club's future betrayal of him.

I apologize for the rambling nature of this bit of fantasy booking; the point is that I think the booking of The Club's match as well as the potential for any related backstage segments with Styles makes it more likely that their match runs earlier in the night instead of right before the main event.  That means New Day versus Vaudevillains is the tag team match that lands in Segment 6.

That leaves Kalisto and the Usos for segments 2 and 3.  I'm going to put Kalisto in Segment 2, with the logic that his bout with Rusev is one of the lesser matches on the card (which generally seems to favor Segment 2) and that WWE won't want to run three consecutive one-on-one matches in Segments 3, 4, and 5.

Finalized card

So here is my final prediction for the match order at Extreme Rules 2016, along with guesses on the bell-to-bell match times.  The total match time on this show will probably be somewhere in the neighborhood of 95 minutes.

Segment 1: Miz versus Cesaro versus Owens versus Zayn (14 minutes)
Segment 2: Kalisto versus Rusev (9)
Segment 3: The Usos versus Gallows and Anderson (12)
Segment 4: Dean Ambrose versus Chris Jericho (18)
Segment 5: Charlotte versus Natalya (14)
Segment 6: New Day versus Vaudevillains (8)
Segment 7: Roman Reigns versus AJ Styles (22)

That's my prediction for the match order at Extreme Rules 2016.  What's yours?

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