Criticizing the WWE is just part of being a wrestling fan. There’ll always be criticisms and hate for decisions they make – even when the decisions are fine. With viewership dropping abnormally low and increased grumbling centered around the quality of the television shows, though, it feels like some of those criticisms actually have merit.
A show like this goes a long way to win back some good faith. This is the first PPV since WrestleMania that I actively enjoyed, and I think the biggest reason for that is because WWE did a lot to make their wrestlers feel unique.
Let me show you what I mean.
Well hello, Brock
Look, Baron Corbin and Lacey Evans had no prayer of beating Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch. We all knew this going into Extreme Rules. And at least they both brought their own unique flavor to the show as well. Corbin hit Becky Lynch with an End of Days, solidifying himself as WWE’s biggest knucklehead, and well...they zoomed in on Evans’ ass.
...Not sure what to say to that. Moving on.
The match itself moved a bit slowly for me, but it did give Seth and Becky time to coordinate some things and clearly be a couple. They hit tandem moves to put their opponents through two separate tables. And then Corbin had to go and be a tool, enraging Rollins and finishing the match in short order.
But of course, that wasn’t the entire story. Paul Heyman’s been teasing for a week that Brock Lesnar would be cashing in. Well guess what?
He cashed in.
And oddly, I’m okay with it. I hated him as champion all of last year and I still would rather he didn’t hold the title, but at least the right folks were getting title shots. I have no interest in Raw trying to persuade me into thinking Corbin is an actual UC contender.
And considering the fact that Heyman’s running the show now? I’ll give them a chance.
Even a Deadman can bring it
I was worried going into this match. I had no idea if Undertaker could even perform a match that I’d want to watch. I was also worried that inexplicably Shane McMahon would win yet again.
Phew. Crisis averted.
Undertaker’s clearly not the same guy he used to be, and that’s totally fine. Age is a thing; we shouldn’t expect him to go out like it’s WrestleMania 25 and putting on clinics with Shawn Michaels. What we saw at Extreme Rules was how he can still be a successful part of the show. By putting him in the ring with talent in their prime and allowing him to have cool moments like the sit up across from Shane or him doing his slit-the-throat taunt as McIntyre plots murder in the background, he’s still awesome.
He still feels unique and special, so long as he’s used appropriately.
Everything Kevin Owens says is special
On the other spectrum of things, we all know that Owens can wrestle with the best of them, right? However...he can talk better than the rest of them.
So that’s what he did here. He talked trash to Dolph Ziggler, Stunned the hell out of him for an easy win, and then told Shane McMahon to “kiss my ass and go straight to hell!”
Samoa Joe is going to murder someone
It’s crazy how Samoa Joe always loses, and yet every loss convinces me even more that this man could murder in cold blood.
Every time he loses, he gets angrier. More desperate. More unhinged. And this time he damn near amputated one of Kofi’s fingers in the attempt.
The other thing I particularly enjoyed was the fact that Kofi Kingston tried to counter the Coquina Clutch the way everyone does – by walking up the turnbuckle. And yet this time, Joe actually had an answer for it! Progress!
AJ Styles def. Ricochet to win the United States Championship – Styles claimed before the match that his heel turn had nothing to do with Ricochet, but the Club’s reaction when Styles almost lost with his foot under the rope tells a different story. As soon as their guy was in trouble, the Good Brothers cheated to make sure they left Extreme Rules with some hardware.
Is this the only heel stable in WWE at the moment? I think it might actually be – which really opens up some opportunities for them to become the main heels on Raw.
Shinsuke Nakamura def. Finn Balor to win the Intercontinental Championship – ...Interesting. Finn Balor was out for weeks. He comes back, loses two matches in a week clean as a whistle, and his title’s gone.
You know what? I hope WWE sticks with that “no auto rematch” rule that’s arbitrarily enforced, despite the fact that Balor and Nakamura are awesome together. I feel like the best options for Balor and Nakamura both involve them splitting ways from here.
Braun Strowman def. Bobby Lashley – Oh hey! We remembered that Braun Strowman is insanely unique and entertaining by having him destroy things all around the arena! Neat!
Aleister Black def. Cesaro – This kicked so much ass. I know some folks are critical of Black’s promos and whatever, but so much of this feud was good from my perspective. And in this match, they did such a great job of showing what makes Black unique and worth watching.
Every time Black caught a move of Cesaro’s, he wasn’t doing the usual wrestling thing of hitting them with a grappling move or spinning them around or whatever else. No, he’d snap a swift kick to the back of Cesaro’s leg. And over time, Cesaro started showing the affects. He couldn’t lift Black late in the match, and yet another kick to the leg staggered Cesaro enough to get destroyed by a Black Mass.
Black’s dangerous, y’all. Also, do me a favor and cherish Cesaro while you can. This guy is incredible.
Bayley def. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross – I liked this match more than I expected. I also like that they didn’t do a turn here, yet. I think saving those moments for television is smart.
The New Day def. Heavy Machinery, Daniel Bryan, Erick Rowan – I want to hate Heavy Machinery. Their goofiness just makes me roll my eyes, but then they kill it in the ring and I can’t help but be impressed. They were awesome in this match, never missing a beat with two teams that are mainstays in WWE.
Also, Big E just walking into Bryan’s kicks and slaps like they don’t matter was fantastic. New Day’s on top of all things SmackDown.
The Revival def. The Usos – Huge fan of how these two teams went out and put on the complete inverse of the opening match featuring the Undertaker. While that one was about spots, this was about seamless action and psychology. The Revival are really on their game right now, in my opinion.
Drew Gulak def. Tony Nese – Your usual very fun Cruiserweight match.
We’ve finally reached the point where Eric Bischoff and Heyman should be running their respective shows, and I feel like this PPV gives them tons to work with moving forward. A lot of characters put their best foot forward and showed how entertaining they can be. We also got some moments that are worth talking about.
But more than all of that, this was just a fun show to watch. I have no major complaints, and was pleasantly surprised by just about everyone.
...Just make sure Lesnar doesn’t hold that belt for 6 years, okay?