WWE Extreme Rules 2017
June 4 2017
We’re in Baltimore, Maryland. Hosts are Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Booker T. This is a solid announce team.
WWE Intercontinental Championship
Dean Ambrose (c) vs. The Miz
The stipulation here is that if Dean is disqualified he loses the title. That’s not particularly ‘extreme’ is it? The Miz had a great run with the IC title on SmackDown. Ambrose’s run has been significantly less memorable. Despite this he is the longest current reigning champion in WWE. That’s more of a reflection of WWE booking than Ambrose’s title run.
Miz’s tactic is to provoke Ambrose into getting disqualified. It gets in the man’s head because he has to think about what he’s doing. Ambrose’s strengths, as a character, is that he doesn’t think he just ‘does’ stuff. The stipulation neuters him. It’s fine work from Miz, routinely outsmarting Dean.
Miz runs a lot of heat during the match, which would be fine if the crowd were biting on it more. However Baltimore wants more action and the reactions are only there when they speed things up. After that they switch to a leg match, with Miz focusing on Dean’s left pin. Miz continues to cheekily steal Daniel Bryan’s spots, even though they’re now on separate brands (corner dropkicks, Busaiku Knee, Yes kicks). Maryse slaps Miz in an attempt to force a DQ but the ref instead ejects Maryse. It’s a clever spot and if the referee followed logic it is an actual DQ. Ambrose gets thrown into the ref moments later teasing another DQ but it’s merely a chance for Miz to blindside Dean with the Skull Crushing Finale and that finishes.
They did a lot of clever stuff here. Miz’s various attempts to get Dean disqualified were entertaining but also he had an underlying run of stuff designed to weaken Ambrose for a finish other than the unsatisfying DQ. It was a very long match but ultimately it arrived at a satisfying conclusion.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Tangent: Miz now has seven IC titles, the second largest number in WWE history, behind Chris Jericho, moving clear of Rob Van Dam and Jeff Jarrett. If he holds the title for two months he’ll move into the top ten of all time for combined days.
Video Control takes us backstage where Bayley is interviewed and Baltimore gives her heat. In Baltimore’s defence it’s a poor promo. Bayley loves wrestling but her delivery on promos is still shaky. You’d think they’d have worked past that in NXT but since Dusty Rhodes died the weaknesses in promos have not been addressed in developmental. They need a promos guy in there ASAP. Personally I’d go with Jake Roberts.
Noam Dar & Alicia Fox vs. Rich Swann & Sasha Banks
The 205 Live experiment has been a bit of a disaster and the result is throwing Sasha Banks at it. The idea being that if someone is over it’ll get others over by association. The crowd suddenly realise Rich Swann is from Baltimore when he’s announced from there.
When the women’s revolution took place it was only a matter of time before they considered putting women in with men and the smaller 205 guys are ideal. It almost looks like an Indie Intergender tag. Dar continues to look slightly out of his depth on the main roster and it’s important to remember he’s still young but he’s landing the character work, which is what really matters in WWE. The match is rapid with Sasha taking out Noam with a flying knees to the floor and Swann takes it with a big old flippydo (Phoenix Splash) for the pin. This was over before it had the chance to be anything but all the characters were over and Sasha dancing with Swann after the match shows her fun side.
Final Rating: **
Ladies and gentlemen, Elias Sampson
Vince McMahon has taken the subtlety of the Drifter character and turned him into a jerk who sings negative songs about the location he’s in. In defence of both Drifter and Vince, it’s getting over.
Kendo Stick on a Pole match
RAW Women’s Championship
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Bayley
Sticking stuff on poles again? Has Vince Russo been on the phone?
Bayley is WWF circa 1991. All bright and flashy gear and PG to her very core. Alexa is ECW circa 1996. All edgy and dangerous and sexy. Bayley looks borderline scared about what she’s got herself into and Alexa is about to trample her. Imagine Bayley is the deer, caught in headlights, and Alexa is a speeding truck. Also keep in mind that Bayley is the better wrestler of the two, with ease, and yet Bliss is so sublimely confident and superior. The crowd can read this and Alexa is loudly cheered. They battle over the kendo stick and do some silly fatigue selling after two minutes. The story of the match is whether Bayley can bring herself to use the kendo stick as a weapon, as she’s been characterised as a bit wet. The answer is in the negative as Alexa takes the gun off her, sticks the barrel up her ass and pulls the trigger until it goes click (figuratively). Alexa is a bad girl and the men in the audience love that. Bliss wears Bayley out and drills her with a DDT for the win, thus proving Bayley is wet and incapable of going to the extreme.
Final Rating: *
Steel Cage Match
RAW Tag Team Championship
The Hardy Boyz (c) vs. Sheamus & Cesaro
The Hardy Boyz were an interesting signing but I can’t help but feel WWE is practically unaware of the character development both men went through in TNA. WWE have tried to reset the Hardy clock to 2003. But Matt is broken, that’s why the gimmick worked in TNA. I want that Matt Hardy to be properly unleashed. If they try to run a nostalgia act everyone is going to be disappointed because they’re not those high risk heavy bumpers anymore. The cage gimmick doesn’t suit anyone involved. It’s not like the storyline required a cage. Plus the cage limits a match and they spend most of the contest trying to clamber over the sides. Jeff makes it out, despite Cesaro’s freaky strength holding him in mid-air beforehand. Sheamus turns the tables by giving Jeff a Brogue Kick through the door and hitting White Noise on Matt off the top rope. Jeff, ever the daredevil, returns to the cage with a Whisper in the Wind off the top. Matt goes out of the door, which surely means they retain but Sheamus and Cesaro climb out at the same time to “win” the titles. So Jeff had to re-escape? Whatever. The big bumps in this were good but unlike the Baltimore crowd I didn’t think this was “awesome”.
Final Rating: **3/4
WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Neville (c) vs. Austin Aries
This is the third title shot for Aries and Neville has retained dirty twice. Crazy wild-eyed heel Neville is apparently the Neville I always wanted without knowing it. Neville has forgone a lot of his high flying antics to establish this character but while the flying made him stand out in England, his ground game makes him exceptional in WWE. He’s always been proficient on the mat. The deal with a submission match is there can be no DQ, so there’s potential for shenanigans. I have no idea why the referee attempts a count-out and continues to enforce rules. Win by submission only, pal, get it together. Aries comes in with a bad leg but a wider range of submissions.
I’m continually put off by the referee, constantly trying to enforce non-existent rules. The wrestlers themselves tip their hat to their previous finishes and flit from one submission to the next. They spill outside and Neville taps out but Mr Rules the Clown Referee decides that’s not valid because it wasn’t in the ring. Who are you to make up rules? It’s a submission match. He tapped out. It’s over. Aries misses a dive and Neville kills him with the Red Arrow to the spine right into the Rings of Saturn. The finish was great but the story they told was nonsensical.
Final Rating: **1/2
#1 Contenders Fatal Five Way Match
Bray Wyatt vs. Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor vs. Roman Reigns
Bray Wyatt – destroyer of worlds is he? Looks more like the destroyer of pasties. With this being a top contender’s match I’m not so much worried about the quality of this contest but rather how good Brock versus the winner will be. Given that statement I would be happy with Roman, Joe or Rollins winning. Finn is too small to tell a logical story against Lesnar and Bray vs. Lesnar would suck.
That said when it comes to entrances Wyatt and Balor are the two best in the game. Bray also ruins Roman’s entrance by laughing at him being all serious. So he has bonus points for that too. WWE give them a full thirty minutes of PPV time to tell a story. There are hints of alliances, especially with Joe and Wyatt. Joe realises quickly that he can score points with the men in the audience by assaulting the Big Dog. Cutting off the Drive By in mid-move is wildly cheered. Bray is the first to realise the potential of a match that has no disqualifications, showing his character is a good deal smarter than the three dumb babyfaces, who fight valiantly and get beaten up. Having a match with so much heat in it is tonally weird, after a night with a lot of heat and again the crowd don’t respond to it. Due to the focus upon it the Bray-Joe storyline becomes the most interesting. It takes a while before Bray gets sick of Joe and shoves him in the way of a tope but it was interesting while it lasted. It also leads to Joe getting upset and preventing Sister Abigail when Bray has the match won. Finn getting all pissed off and cleaning house is a sensational moment. It’s the point when his explosive offence stands head and shoulders above everyone else. This ends with Joe grabbing the Coquina Clutch and Roman spearing them both through the barricade. Followed immediately by Seth Rollins hitting the frogsplash on Wyatt through the announce table. That’s a cool one-two punch. It also triggers the match final chapter; based around the Shield implosion and Seth trying to beat Roman. Balor gets a pin on Roman but Joe hauls him off and chokes him out to move on to Brock Lesnar. I’ll take that! Two big hosses throwing each other around.
As for the match rating, it was a solid contest with a couple of very memorable spots and the result takes the company in a new direction. That’s worth a solid four snowflakes.
Final Rating: ****
WWE can be their own worst enemy at times. When it comes to this particular PPV it never ceases to amaze me how much they drop the ball. Doing a night of “extreme” matches when the company has eschewed violence in wrestling is pretty much impossible. The result is a match where a DQ will finish, a match with no DQ’s where DQ’s are threatened by a clueless official and submissions outside the ring not counting. Add the ‘something on a pole’ gimmick and we’re in bad territory. Miz and Ambrose made me like their match in spite of the stipulations and the main event is really good but everything in between is a total pass.