Review: WWE Extreme Rules  PPV
The word extreme has developed a different definition since the the original ECW ended. Now, in the PG-era, when the word extreme comes around, devoted and old school fans like me roll our eyes in boredom. Why? Well, it’s simple. “Extreme” doesn’t mean EXTREME anymore! They say there’s a no disqualification match, and the worst thing that happens is one chair shot. They say there is a steel cage match, and the most extreme move is a dive off the top (which is pretty sick, to be honest). They say there’s an “Extreme Rules” match, and the most that happens is one announce table gets busted and someone is thrown into the corner post. Extreme is not what it used to be, and while I’m all for the changing times and for WWE trying to create a family-based product, the Extreme Rules pay-per-view has been less-than-stellar the past couple of years.
In 2016, things were a little bit different. I don’t know if it necessarily has something to do with Shane McMahon being back, but WWE’s product is taking a turn for the better because tonight some of the superstars went absolutely extreme. For the first time in a long time, I actually grimaced at how violent and brutal one of these matches got. Now, I’m a big boy and have seen barbed-wire matches ending with sliced open biceps, but tonight the WWE roster and creative team took it up a notch from their normal programming.
Even though the card was almost the exact same as Payback last month, there were enough innovations and brutality to help this PPV to hold its own. I’m not saying the night was perfect, not by a long shot, but I enjoyed the second half of the night and will most likely watch one or two of these matches again.
No Disqualification: Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler
Once again, Baron Corbin is on the pre-show and is once again facing Dolph Ziggler. There was nothing particularly wrong with this match, but it’s something we’ve seen and have become accustomed to at this point. They are short but sweet squash matches to build Corbin’s ferocious character. It’s sad that Ziggler and his career has been reduced to this, but the positive note is he’s helping a young up-and-comer with building his own legacy. I’m sure Ziggler will have another title reign or two before he hangs up the boots, but this match was very similar to their pre-show match at Payback last month. The only difference was it was a No DQ match, yet the only spot worthy of this stipulation was an utterly disgusting and rapturous low-blow from Corbin to Ziggler. That low-blow is what kept this match above a C-, and it’s brevity and sweetness are nothing to complain about either. I just wish we could get a Ziggler/Corbin match we can sink our teeth into.
Match Grade: C
Tornado Tag Match: The Usos vs. Gallows & Anderson
I do have to say… The Usos have a special talent for starting the show off right. I believe it was last year or 2014 where there were three PPVs that were absolutely terrible, but the Usos always had the first match and they always stole the show. I won’t say they stole the show this time around, but they most definitely started the night off right with Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson.
It has been awhile since we’ve seen a Tornado Tag match. For those of you that may not know what that is, it’s when both members of each team are in the ring at the same time. So, it’s similar to a Fatal 4-Way, but there are teams fighting to pin or submit one of their opponents. Anyways, this match introduced the brutality that would keep its haze over the rest of the show. Gallows & Anderson rough-housed and beat the living daylights out of the Usos, while the Usos used their wonderful tag-team innovation to stay alive. I was completely entertained throughout, and once we started getting close to the finale of the match and Luke Gallows grabbed the timekeeper’s bell, I knew we were going to get a classic and nostalgic ending, which I was absolutely right about.
With all my praise for the match, there were a few misses and awkward exchanges between the two teams and between the teammates as well. Their chemistry was great, but you could still tell they haven’t been working together for a long time, so they are still fleshing out some of the kinks. Once all the wrinkles are ironed out though, oh my-lanta Georgia we are going to get some incredible action in the ring.
Match Grade: B-
United States Championship: Kalisto vs. Rusev
Finally! Kalisto’s title defense has made it to the main card. With the likes of Rey Mystery and other Lucha Libre’s missing from the WWE roster, Kalisto is one of the most captivating and entertaining superstars to watch, so I’ve been pulling for his move up to the main card for a long time. This time he was defending the glorious United States Championship against the Bulgarian Brute (no long residing in Russia) Rusev, featuring Rusev’s ravishing wife, Lana.
There was no stipulation for this match, yet there were some creative innovations and brutal moves that made this one semi-compelling. For the most part though, it was simply Rusev destroying Kalisto while Kalisto used every trick in his book to try and cripple the brute. It didn’t work out in the end, and Rusev ended up putting Kalisto in what I now like to call the “Extended Accolade,” which is absolutely nasty to look at. (Thank God Kalisto is that flexible, because a man’s body really shouldn’t bend like that).
Sadly, I know why they allowed Kalisto to drop his title to Rusev on his first main card defense. John Cena returns on Memorial Day, so WWE is setting up to re-kindle an old fire. The United States White Hope vs. The Terrifying Bulgarian Brute will clash once again for the United States Championship. You can see it coming from a mile away, and while I have my reservations about Cena, I did enjoy his rivalry with Rusev last time around.
Match Grade: C+
Tag Team Championship: New Day vs. The Vaudevillains
Not too much to talk about here. With the injury to Enzo Amore last month at Payback, I’m pretty sure The Vaudevillains were not supposed to be in this match to begin with. But, Amore’s injury automatically moved Aiden English & Simon Gotch up to #1 contenders for the titles.
New Day had a hilarious promo before the match, like they normally do,. Many of my friends absolutely hate New Day and their gimmick, but I believe the team does a wonderful job with keeping their characters alive and coming up with new material every week. The other thing is they aren’t too bad in the ring, particularly with some of their tag team moves. Yet, because it seemed like the Vaudevillains weren’t meant to be in the match in the first place, this match was won by New Day in their typical fashion. Was it still enjoyable? It was, I guess, but the match definitely could’ve taken place on Raw and would’ve been forgotten five minutes later. The match’s grade stays above a D+ because both teams showed they are talented, but they weren’t able to put that talent to better use. That probably isn’t their faults either; the creative team had something to do with it.
Match Grade: C-
Intercontinental Championship: Kevin Owens vs. The Miz vs. Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn
This was my most anticipated match of the night.
Hate the Miz if you want, but he does a wonderful job at being an annoying bad guy. Him plus the other three glorious talents, I just knew this one was going to be something special, and it was. Cesaro showed how much of a dangerous beast he is, solidifying his need to be in the World Heavyweight Championship picture more so than the IC title. Kevin Owens stuck his middle finger out to the haters and performed masterfully, keeping his evil character alive throughout the match. Sami Zayn continues his vengeful journey against Mr. Owens, all while remaining the crowd favorite next to Cesaro. The Miz was… The Miz… meaning he didn’t do much but won in garbage fashion. That’s okay though, because the way The Miz does nothing during a match brings a certain pro-wrestling troupe, making the match more entertaining and increasing your disgust for Miz as champion.
Entertaining from start to finish, with some excellent kick-outs and two-counts. Cesaro’s uppercuts led into Owen’s cannonballs which led into more glorious moves from the performers. This match will be on the “Best PPV Matches of 2016” DVD when it comes out at the end of the year. It’s great to see these performers show off their expertise and foreshadow the great things they’ll do for the company.
I do wish Miz didn’t walk away with the title, but maybe this’ll lead into some interesting storytelling for Money In The Bank next month.
Match Grade: A-
Asylum Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho
The most extreme match of the night.
I was a little worried about this one. First off, this was the debut of the Asylum Match (a cage match with weapons at the top, and one can only win by pinfall or submission). There have been many similar too it over the existence of professional wrestling, but it being called an “Asylum Match” makes it go slightly above all the rest. Some of the weapons waiting at the top of cage seemed kind of dumb, and I just knew the superstars would use them twice and then throw them away. Another cause for worry was the fact that the WWE hasn’t truly gone “extreme” in a long time, so I figured Ambrose and Jericho would do their jobs, but in the end the match would a be a dull cage match.
Well, it did start out that way, but this match became excellent to watch after the halfway point. Was it a normal wrestling match? No, but the stipulation threw all normalcy out of the window from the get go. They did only use some of the weapons twice, but the shots with the bull whip, kendo stick, and mop were purely vicious. Of course there was a jump off the top of the cage, which flowed and mixed well with the pace of the match. The fact that the match had to end with a pinfall or submission, erasing any chance of a victory through escaping the cage, made the match a much more compelling bout.
Brutality made it’s glorious appearance during this one, and then the match took a turn for the “extreme” when Ambrose opened a sack and poured out a hundred thumbtacks. Now, I knew they would eventually use the thumbtacks in some kind of way, but I didn’t expect Ambrose to power bomb Jericho onto them and then DDT Jericho’s forehead onto them. I grimaced, honestly, because I’ve accidentally stuck myself with a thumbtack or two and they aren’t the most comfortable things to have in your body. Jericho received an entire back full of them and a few on his forehead. Kudos to the legend himself for putting his body on the line like that.
I’ll definitely be watching this match a second time. It has been awhile since I’ve seen WWE go this extreme, so I’d love to experience it once again.
Match Grade: A
Women’s Championship (Submission Match): Charlotte vs. Natalya
I don’t know what WWE is doing with their Women’s division anymore. There was some promise last month when Charlotte and Natalya had a good outing, and then putting them in a submission match for this PPV made everything that much more exciting. The Sharpshooter vs. The Figure-8. While the figure-8 is a modification to Ric Flair’s figure-4, these are still two of the most prestigious moves in the business, so yes it’s safe to say I was excited to see them get put to use in a SUBMISSION MATCH.
But… the match was average at best, actually a bit less than that, and the ending can only be described as garbage. At least the ending to the Intercontinental Match was appropriate to the story of the match and the winner’s character. For this match, Ric Flair was banned from ringside so he couldn’t help his daughter win once again. So, in terrible but not unrecognizable WWE fashion, they have Dana Brooke come down (disguised as Mr. Flair) to distract Natalya, and Charlotte was able to take advantage and take home the victory.
It was terrible and totally ruined the stipulation of the match. Yes, Charlotte won by submission, but with all the wonderful submission matches that have happened throughout history, you’d think WWE could come up with something better, especially when two of the MOST PRESTIGIOUS moves are the headliners for the match.
This one was completely disappointing with a garbage ending, yet there were still some glimpses of hope from the two superstars. Hopefully WWE caught onto those like I did and are going to take advantage very, very soon.
Match Grade: D3
World Heavyweight Championship (Extreme Rules Match): Roman Reigns vs. A.J. Styles
Their match at Payback stole the show, in my opinion, and now we get the re-match in extreme rules fashion.
The Intercontinental and Asylum matches were going to be very hard to follow, but I had all the faith in the world that this match would be match of the night. Going into this one, I wanted to seen Reigns take the reigns of the match more so than he did last month, because let’s be honest, Styles truly carried the match at Payback while Reigns hit a few decent spots.
The crowd might be chanting, “You can’t wrestle” towards Reigns, but that man can entertain. He’s meant for this business and his powerhouse style mixes beautifully with Styles’ innovative offense and reversals. This match had everything: drama, carnage, character, reversals, kick-outs, interferences, and style. Reigns will forever be associated with The Shield and the rivalries their breakup brought about, but Styles is Reigns’ first great rival of his career.
Styles gave it his all as well, taking the explosive high knees and power bombs from Reigns and showing why he’s the legendary veteran by using his arsenal to throw a rampage at the champion. Styles had the “Moment of the Night,” when he finally picked up a chair and created absolute chaos by hitting Reigns and the Usos (Reigns’ cousins).
Was this a typical championship match? No, it wasn’t the classic one-on-one match-ups that have made WWE famous over the years, but this match was appropriate for the PPV and the stipulation. It’s an Extreme Rules match, so one shouldn’t expect things to occur in a classic manner. These two beat the life out of each other, incorporating some excellent innovations with Reigns’ Superman punch and spear. If my words don’t give it away, then I’ll go ahead an say it, Reigns vs. Styles once again gets match of the night.
I would say I hope to see another match between these two at Money In The Bank next month, but someone returned while Reigns was celebrating his victory. One of his old Shield mates came sprinting down the ramp and gave him a pedigree, finishing the night by holding the WWE title above the broken body of the defending champion.
Yes it is who you think it is… Seth Rollins has returned!
Match Grade: A+
Overall, a decent night that started off great, fell off a bit in-between, and then finally picked up in the latter half with the exception of the speed bump of a women’s match. Reigns showed why he’s meant for this business, balancing his skill set with that of the phenomenal A.J. Styles, who showed why he’s the veteran destined for the hall of fame. It’s safe to say WWE went extreme tonight, and they did so in excellent fashion, finishing off the night with a return of a future hall-of-famer.
Overall Show Grade:B-
Show MVP: Roman Reigns