Another month, another pay-per-view event. I’ll give credit to where credit is due. The WWE is still managing to churn out their monthly pay-per-view events like clockwork even during these trying times. However, in times like these, I think it’s a good idea to reduce the frequency temporarily. Not only will it allow the WWE Superstars to breathe a little (with and without a face mask), it will give the writers some time to really think of more creative stuff!
This Extreme Rules pay-per-view felt like the WWE Creative writers were scraping the bottom of the barrel when it came to gimmick matches. A Swamp Fight where there isn’t even a referee or rules? An Eye for an Eye match where the goal is to poke your opponent’s eye out to get the victory? Also, you added a subtitle “The Horror Show” when it doesn’t match the entire theme of the event?
Anyway, here are my thoughts on this year’s Extreme Rules.
I will say I enjoyed a good number of the matches, including the opening bout featuring The New Day defending their Smackdown Tag Team Championships against Cesaro and Shinusuke Nakamara in a Tables match. I don’t normally care for Tables matches because I find the means to win, tossing your opponent through a table, is dumb. However, for this match, I’ll make an exception.
The match was really heated right from the start. While there wasn’t an abundance of stunts and crazy spots, it was the energy of the Superstars in action. There were a little too many spots where it looked like they were going to drive one another through a table just to be saved at the last second. I normally don’t like these false finishes but, maybe because of the chemistry between the New Day and Cesaro and Nakamura, I was fully invested in it.
The finish had Kofi Kingston trying to rally for his team after Big E was taken out after a Cesaro Swing/Kinsasha combo. Kofi then set Cesaro up on the top turnbuckle in order to use a hurricarana to toss the Swiss Cyborg into a double-decker table setup. Unfortunately for him, Cesaro blocked the attempt and, with the assistance of Nakamura, Cesaro power bombed Kofi through the tables instead. We now have NEW Smackdown Tag Team Champions in Cesaro and Nakamura!
Like I said this was a good match. In retrospect, this could’ve just been a regular match because the table didn’t really figure into many of the moments besides hinting someone was going to be smashed through them. However, thanks to the talent in the ring, I didn’t notice that until after the bell rang.
Next, we had Bayley defending her Smackdown Women’s Championship against Nikki Cross. I still find it heartbreaking what they’re doing with Alexa Bliss and regulating her to a tag team but I guess she can’t really participate to her fullest capacity due to the number of concussions she’s suffered. Even so, at least have her stick her nose into the matches her best friend Nikki Cross is in!
Anyway, this was a very solid match between the two Superstars. Nothing really hard hitting so it was generally a safe bout. There was a dumb moment where Cross was trapped in the ring apron and crawled under the ring to get to the other side. I didn’t see the point to any of that. Still, the action was fairly good but not all that exciting in the long run.
I really liked the finish for this match but I feel like the execution was lacking. Bayley managed to kick out after a big clothesline from Cross. Bayley then tried to crawl away from Nikki Cross. While the referee was trying to get Nikki away from Bayley as she was in between the ropes, Sasha Banks handed The Role Model one of her knuckle rings. The Boss then climbed the apron, distracting the official long enough for Bayley to punch Cross in the gut with the knuckle ring. One Rose Plant later and Bayley retains her Smackdown Women’s Championship.
This was a good match and this was one of kinds of screwjob finishes I like. However, I just can’t figure out why they didn’t have Alexa Bliss do more in trying to help Nikki Cross or even stop Sasha Banks from cheating! As a former cheater herself, she should be familiar with the tactics! Minor gripes aside, this was a good match but nothing great.
We then got a segment featuring MVP and Bobby Lashley. Apollo Crews was apparently injured by Lashley while he was locked in the Full Nelson, leading the United States Champion not being cleared to compete. MVP gave a speech stating he should be the be the United States Champ then. He then got the belt and walked away.
I will say I like the design of the belt now. However, speaking of the segment itself, it was kinda boring! There just wasn’t enough finesse in the promo and the pause before MVP proclaimed himself the new United States Champ and actually wrapping the belt around him felt too long and awkward. It actually mad me uninterested to see what’s going to happen next in this feud.
The next match was the Eye for an Eye match pitting Seth Rollins against Rey Mysterio. This was the match I wasn’t looking forward to because… what does poking out an eye have to do with wrestling? I guess this is 1/2 of the reason why this year’s Extreme Rules was dubbed “The Horror Show.” Anyway, the match was basically weapons galore without the weapons being used properly. It felt like a waste of talent, especially when you have the likes of Rey Mysterio and Seth Rollins in it! Yes, I’ve complained about Seth’s matches being too long but I never said he was a bad wrestler!
On the other hand, I do like the amount of drama and in-ring storytelling they put into this. There was some good escalation to the proceeding but the entire stipulation just hampered everything as it was always “go for the eye” and not enough clever spots to accompany that.
The finish was both lame and creative at the same time. Basically, Rollins once again ground Mysterio’s right eye into the ring steps and he won. You don’t really see any gore so no “Horror Show” to see here. It also was a very uncreative way for the first ever Eye for an Eye match to end because Rollins already did something like this before to Mysterio! I do like the vomit special effects Rollins had to do to sell the gore factor, though. I thought that was, at least, unique. It showed how he wanted to do it and, when he actually did, he was disgusted.
I will say the match itself was a bust since we know no one was really going to lose an eye. Also, it felt like WWE was copying the Jon Moxley storyline when he had to wear an eyepatch after Jericho slashed his eye with a key. If it was done before, at least try to elevate things.
We then had Asuka defending her RAW Women’s Championship against Sasha Banks. This had the potential to be the runaway match of the night… but they squandered it with one of the worst finishes I’ve seen ever! The match itself was fantastic. Both Asuka and Sasha Banks put on an action packed wrestling match and both of them sold each move perfectly. Things already started out hectic but the action really escalated minute by minute. It was going so, so well…
…until the finish. This saw Asuka locking the the Asuka Lock on Banks. Seeing her best friend in trouble, Bayley tossed one of the Women’s Tag Team belts into the ring to distract the referee. While the ref was preoccupied, he didn’t see The Boss tap out. Bayley then went to the far side of the ring to set up Asuka with a belt strike but the referee saw her. The Empress stumbled to the ring apron where Kairi Sane handed her off some of the green mist… I think. I’m not sure.
Banks then had one of the Tag Team belts and hinted at striking Asuka with it. The official and Banks got into it because… the rules are confusing? Anyway, Asuka tried to spray green mist into the eyes of Sasha Bank right in full view of the official but the mist got in the referee’s eyes instead. Bayley then attacked Asuka from behind with the belt. The Smackdown Women’s Champion then stripped the referee off his shirt, wore it herself and, after Banks went for the cover, Bayley counted the three count? She also demanded for the bell to be rung and… what the heck, WWE?
As much as I loved the action of this match, I cannot, for the life of me, give a glowing recommendation for it because of this atrocious finish. It doesn’t make sense! How come no other referee came to ringside to correct this? Why didn’t the match continue with a new referee? There are so many unanswered questions and they will remain unanswered because this was a stupid finish.
The next match had Drew McIntyre defending his WWE Heavyweight Championship against his former friend, Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler then stated the special stipulation for this match: it was Extreme Rules for him… but not for Drew! If Dolph Ziggler wins by DQ or countout, he will be awarded the championship. Now, that’s interesting! Let’s see if they can pull it off in the execution.
They really played to the special rules, which I really liked, as Ziggler would crawl to the outside and draw Drew there as, while the challenger can’t be counted out, the champion can. Ziggler also used a variety of different weapons like tables and chair in an effort to get the upper hand against the Scottish Psychopath. However, I do wish they went all out, with The Show Off even taunting McIntyre to hit him with a weapon or Ziggler using more weapons throughout the match.
The finish had Ziggler blocking a Futureshock DDT attempt by McIntyre but the Show Off reversed it into a fameasser and a Zig Zag. Ziggler then slammed Drew into a chair with a falling slam. Ziggler then set up for a superkick but McIntyre recovered enough and countered with a Claymore kick to get the pinfall victory and retain his WWE Heavyweight Championship.
I honestly had fun with this match, even if it was a little hokey at times. I did like some of the creativity involved with Ziggler and McIntyre playing by different rules. I do wish the finish had a little more drama. Just one Claymore kick and that’s it? At least have Ziggler trying to charge in with a kendo stick or something rather than just a plain ol’ superkick! Also, the match kind of overstayed its welcome by a couple of minutes. Overall, it was a fun match because of the interesting stipulation.
We then get to the main event and the other reason for the “Horror Show” subtitle: The Swamp Fight. Just by the name of the match, I already knew this was going to be one of those “cinematic” wrestling matches. I don’t have anything against “cinematic” matches. I tend to enjoy them, in fact. They’re usually fun and ingenious in one way or another.
The Swamp Fight was neither fun nor ingenious.
The simplest way to summarize the bulk of the action of the Swamp Fight was Braun Strowman beats up some thugs, gets knocked out, tied up, drugged then then faces off against Bray Wyatt on a dock. That’s basically it. There was also a whole block of exposition with Wyatt explaining how they’re not so different. The only thing I found interesting was Alexa Bliss appearing as some figment of Braun Strowman’s unrequited love.
The finish, if you can call it that, had Strowman kicking Wyatt into the water. Then, in classic horror movie fashion (in other words, cliche), a hand bursts out of the water and drags Strowman in. The Fiend then emerges from the depth. The End… finally.
This was the worst “cinematic” match I’ve seen in a while. The WWE did dabble with them before with the House of Horrors and the Wyatt Compound Match… which just so happen to feature Bray Wyatt. Coincidence? At least Wyatt had the very good Firefly Fun House match during this year’s Wrestlemania. This just means he’s 1 of 3 when it comes to fun “cinematic” matches.
Taking every match into account, this year’s Extreme Rules/Horror Show is pretty much a dud. There were no excellent matches and the one that did have a chance, Asuka vs. Sasha Banks, was ruined with a nonsensical finish. The “Horror Show” matches, the Eye for an Eye and Swamp Fight gimmick matches, fell way below my low expectations.
What are your thoughts on this year’s Extreme Rules pay-per-view event? Let me know in the comments section below!