WWE Extreme Rules
July 15 2018
WWE, in an attempt to piss me off, have decided to throw out one of their worst PPV’s of the year (traditionally) a few days into the month of G1 and it’s 3h40m. We’re in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Hosts are a whole bunch of commentators because both Brands are represented.
RAW Tag Team Championship
Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt (c) vs. Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel
This should be a cakewalk as the B Team are joke level underdogs and Hardy & Wyatt are legitimate singles stars. Bray and Bo being brothers gives the match a little intrigue. Has that ever been acknowledged on TV? People know. This match is a walking example of how being a second generation wrestler doesn’t guarantee success in the business. Given the participants its perhaps not a shock that the match is dull. The heat segment on Matt is mind numbing. It is bizarre to me that Bray is the most entertaining man in the match. The champs collide and Bo pins Matt. Wow this sucked. This was the absolute opposite of what you want from a ‘hot opener’. I’m happy for that goofball Axel actually winning something for once but urgh. Moving on.
Final Rating: *
Video Control takes us backstage where Kurt Angle addresses Brock Lesnar’s next title defence. He’s mad about Brock turning up at UFC so either he shows up tomorrow on RAW or loses the strap. Spoiler: he didn’t show up and he’s defending at Summerslam versus either Lashley or Reigns. Neither of which the crowd want to see.
Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin
Corbin looks better after his makeover.
The crux of this match is that Corbin thinks Balor is yet another undersized overhyped Indie guy. I guess Corbin won that Austin Aries feud eventually! Even the announcers tell this as the story of WWE built vs. Indie recruitment. Whereas Corbin wants to tell the story of big man vs. small man. That’s actually a solid story but I have very little investment in it because Corbin is more jokey than vicious. Balor does a good job of taking the beating but the connection isn’t there. Between me and the contest and between the crowd and the contest. Balor gets a shoeing for the whole match and then rolls up Corbin up for the win.
Final Rating: **1/4
Video Control reminds us the next PPV is Summerslam. Hopefully they have a few ideas up their sleeve. If it’s Lesnar vs. Reigns again then what’s the point.
Smackdown Women’s Championship
Carmella (c) vs. Asuka
How to kill the mystique of your biggest ass-kicker in the women’s division? Put her in a multiple PPV feud with one of the worst women’s wrestler on the roster. Carmella is a low rent Alexa Bliss and I do not understand her extended push. As a character Mella is, in fact, money but her strengths are not in the ring. Part of the women’s wrestling revolution was a need for improved in-ring from the women and having a mediocre grappler as your champion does not help this. Meanwhile on RAW it’s all storyline too and it’s not like there are many secondary feuds outside of the titles. Bayley and Sasha aside.
Anyway, this match has James Ellsworth in a shark cage over the ring so he doesn’t interfere. So naturally, like with every other shark cage match ever, he brings weapons and drops them into the ring. Any twat being put in a shark cage needs to be frisked and go through a metal detector. The actual wrestling is about as good as you’d expect. The focus ends up being on Ellsworth, which is the opposite point of a shark cage. Especially when he tries to escape. Women’s wrestling! At least the finish is great with Carmella running Asuka face first into the cage when it’s lowered and knocking her out. “How sad and pathetic was this” – Byron Saxton shoots from the hip. Pros: great bump on the finish, Ellsworth gets murdered with the Asukalock after the fact.
Final Rating: ½*
WWE United States Championship
Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
I’d forgotten Hardy had this belt, taken from Jinder Mahal on the roster switch up day.
Jeff Hardy looks very Jeff Hardy tonight. He wasted his time with all that makeup though as Nak nut shots him before the bell and hits Kinshasa for the title after a few seconds. It’s Victory Road 2011 all over again! Apart from Jeff being able to wrestle.
Final Rating: NR
Post Match: Randy Orton returns after two months out (I did not notice he was gone). That’s actually a quite Japanese way of expressing an interest in a title opportunity. Orton then gives Hardy a low blow (making sure to do it to the HARD CAM and sucking all the spontaneity out of the moment). Bad night for Jeff Hardy’s balls.
Oh god, there’s still 2h 30m of this show left.
Steel Cage Match
Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens
Braun has money in the bank but Brock never turns up to the shows so he can’t take his shot! It’s outstanding psychology from Lesnar. To kill time Braun has developed a dislike of Kevin Owens. This is not really what you’d call a feud as KO keeps running away scared and has been lumped into a cage match to stop him doing so again. If WWE aren’t careful they run the risk of turning Braun heel before he’s peaked as a face. This is a major issue for them and it’s constant because they’re so bad at booking. Luckily the crowd have been conditioned to hate cowards. Bullies are fine. Owens does a good job of putting this together. He takes the beatings but finds openings creatively and once he’s got Strowman incapacitated (via handcuffs) he turns from coward into blowhard.
Obviously Braun breaks the handcuffs but it’s what follows that’s truly shocking. Braun decides to throw Kevin off the cage and does so, KO landing on the announce table in a Mick Foley level of horror bump. Holy shit. Owens took the bump like a pro but there’s no safe way to land that.
Final Rating: That bump was fucking sick lads.
Smackdown Tag Team Championship
The Bludgeon Brothers (c) vs. Team Hell No
I didn’t really understand why the Bludgeons took a disliking to Dan in the first place but the fact they did allowed a Team Hell No reunion so it’s all good and it happens to figure into the tag title picture. The end result is fine but I’m not sure where the concept came from. At least they’re doing *something* with Bryan. Due to a backstage assault earlier in the night Bryan goes it alone, which is another tired story with Dan taking a beating for ages. You had the match RIGHT THERE where the fuck is it?
I mean, it turns up eventually but why takes so long to get going and why have Kane come out with his leg in a cast? The Bludgeons are not going to get over by beating up a little guy two on one, even if it is Daniel Bryan, or attacking a crippled old man. Oooh, but the stories, the stories Road Dogg mumbles to himself. It’s better because there are stories. For anyone that really digs dramatic overselling of a leg this is your match though. Kane selling like a trooper. How good might this have been if they’d just let them wrestle? There are flashes of Harper vs. Bryan that’s excellent but the rest of it is a total waste. The Bludgeons win clean to the sound of crickets. This was one of the dumbest booked matches of the year. A total, total waste. A child could have done better.
Final Rating: *
Video Control takes us backstage where the B Team give Roman Reigns a pep talk and suggest if he wins they should go and celebrate together. Roman is a cock about it because he doesn’t know how to behave as a babyface.
Roman Reigns vs. Bobby Lashley
Putting Roman opposite Lashley gives Reigns someone he can out-talk with relative ease but when it comes to wrestling these two have an uphill struggle before they even hit the ring. Apparently Roman is now “polarising”, which is code for 95% of the audience booing. I don’t watch the product on a regular basis and I’m sick of Roman Reigns right now. He just needs time off. People don’t want him on the shows, let alone main eventing. At least here he’s fourth from top but he’s against Lashley who even less people care about. This is the third longest match on the show. It’s such a Vince match. Two big guys he personally rates doing boring stuff that everyone else hates. The crowd get audibly bored and it takes ages to get anywhere. The moment that feels special is Roman throwing Lashley clear over the top rope with a DVD. That’s a horrendous bump to take. Are they trying to break a few wrestlers on this show? Like Owens taking a ridiculous bump to finish the cage match, Attitude Era style, and Lashley doing a bump half as sick for no reason whatsoever. The main reason seems to be that nobody gave a fuck until that bump and afterwards there’s a notable uptick in interest. The match ends suddenly with Lashley stopping Roman with a spear out of nowhere to cut off Reigns’ own speary ambitions. Very weird match. Sluggish start. Daft bump. Hot stretch.
Final Rating: **3/4
RAW Women’s Championship
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Nia Jax
This has never been a good match and I’m far more interested in Ronda Rousey’s return in a few days time. Nia is now associated with Natalya, as an extension of Ronda’s friendship with Natalya. Ronda needs to look forward to being turned on by everyone who ever claims to be her friend. But the money match is Shayna Baszler. Can’t wait for that. This bout actually falls under the “extreme rules” stipulation. Which is stupid because all the matches on Extreme Rules should be under Extreme Rules. That’s the point. However selecting this match in particular is a sensationally bad idea as Nia is sloppy as fuck and it’s just dangerous. She seems to have no concept of the way a bin works. Natalya gets her ass kicked and that’s too much for Ronda Rousey to take! She jumps in the ring and Mickie James takes a beating for her part in all this. Mickie looks terrified at having to take Ronda’s shoot-ish offence. She seems to have no idea what’s coming next. Mickie recovers to save Alexa and a DDT on a chair puts Nia away. This was a clusterfuck. Nobody here covered themselves in glory but Nia looked out of her depth. Which is a pity because the Rousey match was pretty good.
Final Rating: *1/4
AJ Styles (c) vs. Rusev
This is Rusev’s first ever one on one WWE title shot, which is frankly ridiculous. It shows how badly his career has been derailed multiple times by the booking. He’s battled back multiple times. Which allows this to be a genuinely split crowd. AJ is one of the best babyface champions in recent WWE history (since Daniel Bryan I’d wager). People are not getting sick of him because he’s really good. AJ has racked up so much time with the WWE title around his waist he’s a week away from surpassing Shawn Michaels for cumulative time as champ. He’s already passed the Rock. Everyone up at this level are legendary figures. That’s how well regarded AJ Styles is. So when I say TNA dropped the ball when they let him to go to New Japan….they really dropped that ball.
It’s Rusev who looks out of his depth. He’s clumsy in the early going and his timing and technique are poor. He gradually gets into his rhythm and starts working over the back to set up the Accolade. They do an excellent job of showing Rusev’s power and having him be hard to take down, hard to outwrestle and hard to outmanoeuvre. AJ does a good job of selling for Rusev’s size but also at forcing the pace and making sure it feels like a big match. An unfortunate aside is Aiden English as Rusev’s second. He spends most of the match as a presence rather than a factor but his involvement as the match progresses is unwelcome. Rusev does a bang up job of selling his leg, after multiple assaults, and his failures relate to that bad leg. The best part is his inability to hook the Accolade because he can’t squat on that left knee. For me, watching G1 and disappointed by some of the selling, it’s great work from AJ and Rusev. Keeping stuff relevant and making injuries important. I dig that. English’s continued involvement is sneakily behind the ref’s back so there’s no need to kick him out. I appreciate that too. Plus his cheating, removing a turnbuckle cover, fails because he’s too sneaky about it and AJ is able to eliminate him and Rusev to stay the blue eye champ. I loved this match. It ticked all my boxes.
Final Rating: ****
WWE Intercontinental Championship
Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. Seth Rollins
It’s testament to modern wrestling fans attention span that this is a 30 minute Ironman match not a full hour.
Dolph headlining a PPV in 2018 huh? How about that. Ziggler has chosen to have “EVIL” written across his butt. The only evil thing about Ziggler is how he’s wasted his career potential by never attempting anything ambitious and staying in WWE where he’s safe thus becoming a midcarder for life. I kinda rate Ziggler, from an in-ring perspective anyway, and he could have had a sensational run on the Indies if he wanted. Rollins hits the Bucklebomb and La Majistral puts him 1-0 up after less than five minutes. Zero reaction! That’s…worrying. Then they start doing countdowns to each minute counter. Oh, it’s a dumb crowd. Lovely. Rollins fucks that up by hitting the Curb Stomp and getting a pin during the 10 count section. What a worker! 2-0. Drew McIntyre decides to run in and cause a DQ. 3-0. Drew then continues his assault after the referee has rendered his decision, which is a) stupid and b) another fall for Rollins if you’re a competent official. Drew looked like a world class dipshit here.
He hits the Claymore on his way out, which incidentally is another DQ. Ziggles gets a pin and it goes to 1-3. Ziggler picks up another fall with a superkick and it’s 2-3. Zigzag 3-3. They’re just throwing away falls here! Look how easy it is to beat Seth Rollins! The WWE boys get pissed off and remove the clock to shut the crowd up so they chant “where’s the clock”. You ruined it audience! This is why we can’t have nice things. Jobber Seth gets pinned again with Dolph’s feet on the ropes. 4-3. What is this dogshit middle segment? This was fine until Drew ran in and everything since has sucked.
Dolph is clearly mad at the fans because he hooks a rest hold and just sits in it. This leads us under ten minutes and WWE decides that means the clock needs to come back. The continual counting down makes it very hard to actually focus on the match so it’s for the best that it’s only a Ziggler match and doesn’t actually mean anything. They fly into a heckuva stretch, which is a mini-match in itself where Rollins needs a fall. It’s easily the best part of the match leading to Seth hitting a slingshot into the buckles and finishing with a sunset flip style pin for 4-4. After that we meander into the last three minutes, which are as aimless as a lot of the earlier match. Rollins has it won with the Curb Stomp and he’s even late onto the pin so the ref doesn’t even get a one count. Sad.
With it all square Kurt Angle shows up to tell us we get overtime. But Drew is back out here and he distracts so Ziggler hits Zigzag and retains. Urgh. This match was so uneven. If you watch any part of it hit the 10 minute mark and watch until Rollins levels it up at 4-4. That was, by far, the best part of the match.
Final Rating: ***
As we leave Pittsburgh, PA, we see this face;
And that’s basically the crowd after the show they’ve been given. Congratulations to AJ Styles for being good even in this company where the booking is a colossal fucking disaster.
Extreme Rules is almost always shit. Was it shit in 2018? Extremely.