As much as I like Brock Lesnar holding the WWE Universe title because he brings a level of legitimacy to the belt, there is a huge downside whenever he’s the champ: he hardly defends it because of his “limited” work schedule. This year’s RAW exclusive pay-per-view event, Extreme Rules, is prime evidence of this. Instead of The Beast defending the WWE Universal Championship (I still really hate that name, by the way), the main event for this year’s Extreme Rules is a Fatal Five Way featuring the top five RAW Superstars to determine who will become the #1 Contender for Brock’s title. Lame!
The overall program does look rather decent despite the main title not being defended. And Extreme Rules actually is a chance to place some wrestlers out of their comfort zone and show us a little more of what they can do. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will, does it? Let’s go actually see how “extreme” this pay-per-view really was.
Match #1: Dean Ambrose vs The Miz (with Maryse) for the Intercontinental Title
“Extreme” Rule for the match: No Champion’s Advantage: If Dean Ambrose is disqualified, the Intercontinental Championship will go to The Miz
So they’re just rehashing feuds from Smackdown, huh? I’m cool with that in this instance because the Dean Ambrose and The Miz feud was one of the best feuds in recent memory.
This match was generally fun because The Miz used the stipulation to full effect, trying to goad Ambrose into getting himself disqualified through some standard but clever bad guy moves such as inciting him to do a beatdown or trying to trick The Lunatic Fringe into using a steel chair against him. Oh, the actual action was pretty good as both of them have proved they can really work well together but it was mostly the way The Miz trying to get Ambrose disqualified which made the match great.
The finish was, oddly enough, both good and bad because the referee was both smart and dumb. The Miz was getting rather desperate so he yelled at Maryse to slap him in full view of the ref in the hopes for a DQ victory due to outside interference. The official didn’t buy it and ordered Maryse away from ringside. Maryse did still hang around, distracting the official long enough for The Miz to throw Ambrose at him. The referee threatened to award the DQ victory to The Miz but, before he could, The A-Lister snuck up behind Ambrose and nailed a Skull-Crushing Finale for the pinfall victory and to become the NEW Intercontinental Champion once again.
There were a lot of things that made the match work well. Both wrestlers worked well together and they used the match stipulation to full effect. The closing was brilliant but kind of sloppy since the referee was smart enough to not get tricked at first. But then totally forgot about it soon after. Still, really good entertaining bout and a good way to open up Extreme Rules.
Rating: 8.0 of 10.0 Maryse slaps
Match #2: Rich Swann and Sasha Banks vs. Noam Dar and Alicia Fox
“Extreme” Rule for the match: Mixed tag team rules. It’s the men vs. the men and women vs. the women.
Sasha Banks, what have they done with you? I get that it’s only fair to have the other women Superstars in the spotlight but is this really the best thing the WWE can think of doing with Sasha Banks, one of the first women to be in a Hell in a Cell match? A mixed tag team match? No offense to Rich Swann, Noam Dar and Alicia Fox but Sasha Banks doesn’t really deserve to be in this match.
To be fair, the stuff that Rich Swann pulled in the ring was exciting and exhilarating thanks to his high flying stunts. Noam Dar was a great… punching bag, I guess. I do wish they would improve Dar’s character by making him a “smart” bad guy who would use underhanded tactics to win ala Ric Flair. Alicia Fox was okay but she really didn’t do anything all that impressive. And that’s the long and short of it: this match was rather unimpressive and uneventful.
The finish came just after the action spilled outside the ring. Sasha Banks perched on the top turnbuckle, aiming to nail her double knee drop on Foxy. Dar pulled his girlfriend out of the way so Sasha drilled him with the double knees instead. Swann then rolled Dar into the ring, nails his Phoenix Splash for the pinfall victory… and a dance number.
This was a boring match and what made is worse is that Sasha Banks was in it. It’s something you would see on RAW and not a pay-per-view. Also, what was so “extreme” about this match again?
Rating: 4.0 of 10.0 questions as to why Sasha Banks’ talent is being wasted in this way.
Match #3: Bayley vs Alexa Bliss for the RAW Women’s Championship
“Extreme” Rule for the match: Kendo Stick on a Pole: You can use a kendo stick to attack your opponent
Look, I love you, Alexa Bliss. But, geez, you’ve been firing a lot of duds as of late. First, that awful “This is Your Life” segment on RAW and now this match. The sad thing is that this match actually had the potential to be something good.
One of the biggest issues with the match is that Bayley got the weapon pretty quickly without both Superstars actually fighting for it for an extended period to up the drama. Also, when Bayley did get the weapon, she actually didn’t do anything with it! It would have been incredibly compelling if Bayley got the kendo stick and, I dunno, actually tried to use the darned thing. Or if Bayley got the kendo stick and just broke it in half, rendering it useless. Instead, we got Bayley stupidly teasing the crowd that she was gonna use it only to have Little Miss Bliss take it from her immediately.
The finish was generally a repeat of their match of Payback a couple of months ago. After getting taken down by Bayley’s Bayley-to-Belly suplex, Alexa Bliss gingerly (and rather obviously) put the kendo stick in the order in an upright position. Bayley tried to get the weapon but Alexa Bliss pushed her face first into the stick. Little Miss Bliss struck The Huggable One with the weapon one more time before striking a snap DDT for the pinfall victory and to retain the RAW Women’s title.
This was a really ho-hum match with very little drama to speak of. This match didn’t help either Bayley or Alexa Bliss in any way. In fact, the match made Bayley seem really stupid because it proved Alexa Bliss right that Bayley could never get extreme. I kind of hope that their feud ends right here and now so Little Miss Bliss can start a program with another women’s wrestler like Sasha Banks (hint, hint).
Rating: 2.5 of 10.0 kendo stick strikes
Match #4: The Hardys vs Cesaro and Sheamus for the RAW Tag Team Championships
“Extreme” Rule: Cage match where the only way to win is if both partners escape the cage.
I loved the stipulation as it felt unique and made the cage something special. I actually thought it was weird that you could win a cage match via pinfall or submission. Escaping the cage always seemed like the perfect way to win. I love the drama and the chase whenever someone get so close to escape only to get dragged back in at that last moment. And this match was no different. There were escape attempts galore, which kept things exciting. If there was one thing to complain about, it’s that the match just wasn’t hectic and/or crazy enough. The Hardys nor Cesaro and Sheamus actually used the cage as a weapon, at least to its fullest potential. And there were actually very few “extreme” spots, which is disappointing, considering The Hardys are in it.
The finish was, well, weird and kinda confusing. But that’s because the rules weren’t really ironed out or made crystal clear. The only way to win is for both partners to escape the cage. Well, Jeff Hardy actually managed to escape! This did leave Matt Hardy all by his lonesome against Cesaro and Sheamus.
It turns out that, once you escape, you can re-enter the match if you get back inside the cage, you have to re-escape to win? Honestly, that didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me because… he already got out! It did fit into the finish of the match. After Sheamus and Cesaro nailed a double team version of White Noise from the top turnbuckle on Jeff, Matt climbed to the top of the cage and landed a Whisper in the Wind on his opponents. This did mean that Jeff was back in the match. Jeff was unfortunately too stunned to get out of the cage, even with Matt dragging him out of the door. Cesaro and Sheamus managed to climb the cage and land on the outside mere seconds before the Hardys could, making them the NEW RAW Tag Team Champions.
This was a fun match for me. There were a few highlights near the end of the match. That Whisper in the Wind from the top of the cage was an awesome sight. I didn’t like the finish though as it was pretty confusing. Overall though, it was an enjoyable cage match and it felt like the right way to use the cage as well.
Rating: 7.5 of 10.0 Whisper in the Winds from the top of the cage
Match #5: Austin Aries vs Neville for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
“Extreme” Rule: Submission match where you can only win via submission
I know these are the two top guys in the Cruiserweight division but they’ve fought so many times in pay-per-views I’m beginning to think these may be the only two guys in the Cruiserweight division! Adding a “submission” stipulation isn’t going to change the fact that these two have fought numerous times it’s bordering on ridiculousness.
There was generally a good back and forth between Aries and Neville and, well, these two have worked together so many times, it’s only natural that they already know how to play off their individual strengths. It’s just that we’ve already seen what these guys can do together over and over again. It would be okay if they upped their game up but it just doesn’t seem like they’re even trying to do that. It just seem all so… safe.
The finish came after Aries stunned Neville with a discus five-arm, knocking his foe to the outside. Aries attempted a suicide dive but Neville, probably by dumb luck, ducked out of the way, hurting Aries in the process. Neville capitalized on a hurt Aries as The King of the Cruiserweights rolled Aries back into the ring and still managing to connect with a Red Arrow to Aries’ back, who was trying to roll out of the way. Neville then locked in the Rings of Saturn for the submission victory to retain his Cruiserweight belt.
It’s kind of hard to say that this was a bad match. It should’ve been a good match but, since we’ve all seen it before, the action looked stale and repetitive. I do hope Neville and Aries stop the feud and give the other Cruiserweights a time to shine in the “main event” moving forward.
Rating: 6.0 of 10.0 these two again?
Match #6: Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe vs. Bray Wyatt for the #1 Contender spot for the WWE Universal Championship
“Extreme” Rule: Fatal Five Way… so it’s a free for all
What do you do when you have five guys you want to push to be the top guy? Put all of them in one match!
I honestly thought this was going to be a mess. Usually, when there’s a Fatal Four or, in this case, Fatal Five Way match, there are going to be someone who doesn’t get to do much. This certainly wasn’t the case here. Oh, not everyone actually felt integral. Finn Balor especially seemed like the odd man out. But, thankfully, everyone managed to have their high spots and everyone did make a good showing. I actually liked how organic the team-up of Samoa Joe and Bray Wyatt felt. And they surprisingly worked well with each other for a good portion of the match. Of course, the partnership didn’t last forever as they did have to duke it out, thanks to The Eater of Worlds tossing Samoa Joe into a Seth Rollins suicide dive. But even when they battled against each other, it did feel rather real.
If I were going to talk about some negatives, I do feel that, well, it wasn’t “extreme” enough. There were chair shots and even steel step strikes but everything did feel like an orderly match. Even the action outside didn’t get all that hectic and rough. This didn’t really hurt the match but I kind of expected much more, especially when they started using weapons. Sure, there was an insane moment where Reigns speared both Balor and Joe through the barricade and Rollins did a frog splash on Wyatt through an announcers table. But I kind of wanted a little bit more insanity, especially because of the level of talent that was in the match.
The finish actually came shortly after the sequence I mentioned above. Rollins attempts a Phoenix Splash on Reigns but Reigns avoids it. Rollins rolls out of the way and is caught by Wyatt and signals for Sister Abigail. Reigns jumps in and counters Wyatt’s Sister Abigail with a spear. Rollins hits a buckle bomb on Reigns but The Big Dog bounces back with a superman punch. Balor gets in the ring and tries to attack Reigns but eats a superman punch himself. Balor avoids a spear and counters it with a series of moves, finishing off the sequence with Coup De Grace. But before Balor can get the pinfall, Joe runs in and locks the Coquina Clutch. Balor goes to sleep and Samoa Joe is your new #1 Contender for Brock Lesnar’s WWE Universal Championship.
A really good match with everyone holding up their end of the bargain when it comes to action. No one looked weak and everyone came off as having some legitimate claim to the #1 Contender spot. Joe winning was probably the most logical choice as the WWE has build him up to be a monster that just may have the ability to stand toe-to-toe against The Beast Incarnate. Now, if it just were just a little bit more insane…
Rating: 8.5 of 10.0 Coquina Clutches that look like a sleeper hold
Overall Rating for WWE Extreme Rules (2017):
I wouldn’t call Extreme Rules a failure of a pay-per-view event. There were some really good ones like the match for the Intercontinental Championship and the tag team cage match. The main event was rather fantastic, actually. Oddly enough, it was the matches that involved the Women Superstars that just dragged down the whole show. I actually hate saying that because I’m a big fan of the WWE’s Women’s division and I’m a huge fan of Alexa Bliss. However, my being a fan shouldn’t stop me from saying they really made the pay-per-view kind of blow. Essentially, it was a solid show but with a couple of really horrible matches.
Rating: 6.5 of 10.0 at least the main event was fantastic
Did you watch this year’s Extreme Rules pay-per-view? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!