10 Rivalries for the Brand Extension 2.0

The main focus for me right now in wrestling – as I’m sure is also true of millions of WWE fans around the world – is the upcoming draft. In roughly two weeks, the roster will be split, characters will be separated. And as yet, nobody knows who will go where. We don’t even know for sure what the situations with the Championship belts are. But with uncertainty comes speculation, and with speculation comes dreams. So I’ve put together 10 feuds that I would love to see happen – and think we should see happen – in the months after July 19th.

AJ Styles vs Seth Rollins


These two are probably my favourite wrestlers in WWE right now, so of course I was going to pair them together. They have a similarly eye catching style which would make for an interesting clash, and with the reactions these two have gotten in 2016 you know it would be a main event match. I will talk about this again in a future article, but I see Seth being the face in this scenario. If these two were given 25 minutes to do their thing, maybe with a world title on the line, I would be expecting a match of the year candidate – that’s how highly I think of these guys.


Kevin Owens vs Seth Rollins


This is the kind of match that would be way down the pecking order of main events right now, but has a very real chance of being a brand dominating feud after July 19th. Owens has been on the cusp of pushing through to main event status for a while now, and this is the kind of rivalry that should put him over the top. He’s past mid-level title status, and if he goes around reminding everyone that Rollins is a sellout, they could put on a classic too.


Sasha Banks vs Paige

Sasha Paige

One of the big questions around the brand extension revolves around the treatment of the women’s division – will they all be on one show or not? Either way, this is the most exciting prospect for me. They have very different backgrounds and inspirations, but they both wrestle quite a physical style that would make this a different women’s match than we are used to. Whereas Banks, Charlotte and Becky Lynch are technically very good, Paige could turn this into a brawl, and that might be what’s needed to spice things up a bit.


Enzo & Cass vs The Wyatt Family


On one side you have the brash, loud, colourful team of Enzo Amore and Big Cass. On the other, you have the dark, brooding behemoths of the Wyatt Family. Ideally I’d have Luke Harper back for this, but I’m not sure what his recovery time is like so it may have to be Erick Rowan and Braun Strowman. There is also the added possibility of using this rivalry to add some depth to the women’s division – you can make Carmella and a debuting Sister Abigail big time players by involving them here. I just think this would be a really entertaining clash of characters, with the matches having a similar dynamic to Undertaker/Big Show vs Kane/X-Pac.


Cesaro vs Randy Orton

Cesaro Orton

Orton is due back in the next month or so, and I don’t think these two have crossed paths as adversaries all that much. In a similar way to the Owens/Rollins feud earlier, putting Cesaro in the ring with someone as established as Randy Orton can only be a good thing. Cesaro said in a recent interview that he’s targeting the Intercontinental Championship, and this could be a good first feud back for Orton if the feeling is he’s not as relevant to the main event picture anymore. It would elevate the IC belt, and hopefully Cesaro – both of which should have happened long before now.


Chris Jericho vs Sami Zayn


Ahh a battle of Canadians. These two have obviously interacted as they were both part of the Money in the Bank ladder match, but a singles program could do wonders for Zayn. Jericho is very much in the position of veteran who is there to put younger guys over, and Zayn might need it if Owens goes over at Battleground. The beauty of this is there is a ready made reason for it to happen after last week’s Highlight Reel on Raw, and they should be able to produce very high quality matches.


Finn Balor vs AJ Styles


This has been eagerly anticipated for months now, and it’s widely expected Balor will be called up to the main roster imminently. But, for now, I would have the two of them on separate brands. I used to be hesitant on the idea of Styles turning heel and staying with The Club, but now I’m thinking that’s the way forward. Have Balor embrace Gallows and Anderson in the Royal Rumble match, only to be attacked by all three, leading to a Wrestlemania match between these two. I think you have to build to the moment Balor finally interacts with his former friends, and it’ll feel like a special moment if the first time it happens on screen is at the Rumble.


Curtis Axel vs Neville


Wait, hear me out. I’m serious about this. A by-product of the brand extension should be that people are given chances where before there was no time for them. Call this a symbolic selection if you must, but Axel is a very solid in ring talent, with an aggressive streak that will make people take notice. He can leave the Social Outcasts to Slater and Dallas to keep teaming, while he (on a separate brand) forges ahead with a singles career. Neville would be a good opponent for him, because I really think he can have a good match with anyone, and is a natural babyface. It’s an easy underdog story to tell, and it should be able to establish Axel as a mid-card force again.


Finn Balor vs Bray Wyatt


The demon vs the eater of worlds. I think this could be a really cool visual to keep things ticking over for Balor until he would get to the Styles rivalry I wrote about before. For me, Wyatt doesn’t get enough credit for his in-ring work, as he’s had some really good matches that have gone under the radar. It could also be a really nice way to introduce the demon aspect of Balor to main roster audiences – that is what he has to resort to in order to combat Bray Wyatt.


Dean Ambrose vs Roman Reigns

Ambrose Reigns

From what I’ve seen, the general consensus from fans is that Roman has to turn heel outright upon his return from suspension. Who would’ve thought Ambrose would be the last to turn heel out of The Shield, eh? We’ve obviously seen this match before, but it would have a totally different dynamic as part of an extended feud. These two have so much history now, and fans have seen them as self-proclaimed “brothers”. So it would have an impact if Reigns turned on Ambrose, and it could feel really real if he talks about being jealous of Ambrose having the whole crowd on side, while they cost Reigns his special moments by turning on him. This is a title feud that would get very personal very quickly, and it would give WWE momentum post draft when they might struggle to find their feet.


The vast majority of these could happen at the same time, and I don’t think many of us would complain if these feuds filled our screen in the remainder of 2016. What I did find interesting though, is that for several characters I struggled to think of who I’d like to see them face – there’s no New Day on this list, no Ziggler. A big part of that is down to the unknown of how things will work. In case there’s doubt, I would have Reigns vs Ambrose as the title feud on one brand while having AJ Styles vs Rollins as the title feud on the other. For some reason, I have in my mind which brands these would happen on as well as the ideas for the pairings themselves.

This is not going to be the last article dedicated to wishful thinking surrounding the draft you’ll see here in the coming weeks, but that’s just because it’s such an exciting time for wrestling. For all we know at this stage, anything really could happen.

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