Extreme Rules isn’t one of my favorite pay per views in the WWE calendar, if only because it typically fails to live up to that billing. Fans want excitement all the time, but in this PG-era of WWE, we know that we won’t be getting the extreme was all really want. Still, this years event tried to freshen things up – throwing the extreme tag around like a cruiserweight on Tuesday night. The big question – was Extreme Rules any good, or just an extreme disappointment?
Dean Ambrose vs The Miz (IC Title)
A solid opening match, if slightly unspectacular. Part of Dean’s problem right now is that he isn’t lighting up in the ring, and it makes a lot of his matches feel very samey. The stipulation of the match also felt very heavy-handed – with Ambrose constantly sat on the edge of being DQed. I also think we all saw the Maryse spot coming a mile away. That moment Miz turned to her and demanded to be slapped was well executed – and the referee’s reaction to it moreso.
I’m happy to see Miz as Champion – my only hope now is that Ambrose heads somewhere better. He really, really needs to find some momentum right now – because he’s not got a whole lot going on.
Sasha Banks & Rich Swann vs. Noam & Alicia Fox
I gave this match a hard time in the build up, but it was certainly passable. Swann got an amazingly big response from his home crowd – and the match itself was fun for what it was. I could have done without Fox flopping around the ring like a rag doll, but hey – at least it didn’t drag.
Alexa Bliss vs. Bayley (Raw Women’s Championship)
Oh boy did this one suck. Not in the “it was a bad match between two bad wrestlers” kind of way either, but in the “they really didn’t want Bayley to look good” way. Seriously, this match barely got started before it was over – with the pair fighting briefly to get control of the Kendo Stick. As soon as Bayley lost it, she might as well have gone home. Bliss hit her finisher and that was it.
I have no idea what’s going on with Bayley right now, but WWE has single-handedly murdered her momentum. They’ve turned one of the company’s most beloved talents into a walking charicature. Worse still, the audience were booing Bayley. Because of the awful booking – the live audience were cheering for Bliss more. What a horrible mess for all involved.
Matt & Jeff Hardy vs. Cesaro & Sheamus (Cage Match)
I wasn’t sure what to expect heading into this one. It’s been a while since The Hardy’s did their cage thing properly, and the idea of a 39-year-old Jeff bumping awkwardly wasn’t all that appealing. But man alive, they did it somehow.
The story of the match was all the competitors trying to get out without leaving their partners behind. Jeff managed to make a break for it and get out, but had to return when it became obvious Matt wasn’t going to overcome the odds. His spot off the top of the cage was insane though, and really helped to get the audience into the match. I will say, the attempt at the draw-finish was somewhat awkward – given that no one tried to stop the other team from escaping. But this was the right result for all involved – as it gives the division a chance to try new things.
Neville vs. Aries (Cruiserweight Match)
The match itself was fine. The submission stipulation felt more like a crutch at times than anything else – but for the most part, the live audience seemed to enjoy. The silliest moment came when Neville was tapping outside the ring – an awkward proposition at a pay per view entitled Extreme Rules.
Neville winning hopefully means a new challenger can rise and get a Championship shop. Aries already feels like he’s peaked in the division – an awkward sign of how lackluster the entire 205 Live experiment is right now.
Fatal Five Way (For shot at Universal Title)
A great match that really made use of the talent involved. I find odd-numbered matches a bit weird, if only because they usually leave one guy lying down for long periods while everyone else gets to compete. Here though, they covered this and helped to give Extreme Rules an incredibly strong closing match.
It was nice to see Joe and Wyatt teaming up. The two realizing quickly that they could eradicate the opposition before attacking each other. Their little alliance helped to put focus on Wyatt – a good thing at a time when he needs that kind of attention. Everyone got their spots though (Spear through the barricade, elbows from the top rope).
Joe is an excellent choice to face Lesnar, if only because he looks like a legit badass. Their match should be brutal and really help cement the Samoan Superstar as one of the company’s top stars. Props to for the Creative team faking everyone out at the end – Balor looked for all the world like he was about to win it.
Not the worst pay per view. I wasn’t that hyped for Extreme Rules heading in, but some solid matches helped to make things better overall. There were some harsh pitfalls though which stole from the overall show.
The Raw Women’s Title match was easily the worst of the night. It physically pains me that WWE are booking Bayley to be such a loser, and fans are really beginning to turn on her. Not that the Cruiserweights are faring much better – given the awkward finish to that submissions match.
The main event though was everything it needed to be. Legitimizing a new main event talent while stealing the show on the way.
Let’s hope this momentum carries over into Monday Night Raw.