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Extreme Rules 2021 recap & reactions: Reigns shows The Demon the ropes

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A surprise return, the end of an era, and WWE needs to fire its ring crew

Ladies and gents, it’s time to get extreme! Well, kinda. Extreme Rules popped off in front of a bunch of bloodthirsty Ohioans, who begged for someone to go through a table or two.

Did they get their wish? You’ll have to read two things to find out: Claire’s blog and the words below.


The Shadows Belong to Reigns

Sometimes, less is more. Most of the time in wrestling, that rule is number one. WWE, at its best, adheres to this dictum and tells simple stories in and out of the ring. Whether they do it well or not is your call, dear reader, but that doesn’t change the fact. For most of the main event between Roman Reigns x Finn Balor The Demon, that’s exactly what we got. Roman’s power was too much for the smaller Demon. Reigns even went into the crowd with a mask to punish Balor, eliciting a Bane reference from Pat Mac that made me smile like a child.

The Demon took advantage with a low blow I’ve never seen before. In fact, it was so smart, it makes me wonder why no one ever tried it before him. Once Finn took control and the rest of the Bloodline interfered, it looked like we were going with a simple story of too many cats for one guy to fend off.

Demon or no Demon Finn isn’t built to handle the Jimmy, Jey, and Roman at one time. Especially when Roman spears him through the barricade after he just took two superkicks to the jaw.

But that’s when it all got complicated and silly.

Look, I know protecting the Demon is a thing WWE has to do. But is this really the best way? And by that I mean, is having his music resuscitate him and letting said music play for the rest of the match. To make matters sillier, the top rope broke while Finn stood on top of it preparing to hit the Coup de Grâce. Oh, and this all happened as the fog machine went into overdrive around the ring.

Reigns speared the Demon on instinct but was in shock just like the rest of us, looking to the heavens and thanking a higher power.

This was stupidly goofy. Up until then, we had a good match going! And the ending was there with the Uso’s interfering. But, like I said, WWE likes to complicate things that don’t need complicating. As it stands, the ending is the thing, and that ending left a sour taste in my mouth. Obviously, Roman’s next challenge is Brock but I have no clue where they go with Finn after this.

Hopefully, it’s to Monday nights where he can forget this ever happened.


Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

Bianca Belair is just as good as Becky Lynch. That’s the story we got from jump. The last time Bianca and Becky Lynch were in the ring, the EST wasn’t ready. Tonight? She was more than ready. She countered every big move Lynch threw, she overpowered her because, well, you’ve seen Bianca, and she was more focused.

When Becky wasn’t figuring out how to solve Bianca, she was yelling at Michael Cole—I fully endorse this—and demanding the crowd throw roses at her feet. Bianca came to fight and the more she fought, the more desperate the champ got. It’s almost as if she couldn’t believe the audacity of Bianca Belair to *gasp* prepare for their fight.

Becky figured out pretty quickly the Manhandle Slam was a no go because Bianca was too ready and too powerful. Instead, she did her best to slap on the Dis-Arm-Her. But, of course, Bianca found a way out multiple times. Becky, showing her stubbornness and pride, went to the well one more time.

Girl, nah.

Bianca turned Becky’s finisher against her and somehow managed to hoist the champ on her shoulders to setup the KOD. But just when you thought it was safe to pop the champagne for a new champ. the Boss came to town out of nowhere.

Sasha Banks ran to the ring and delivered an overdue ass whipping to Bianca, causing the match to end in a DQ. Once Sasha was done with Belair, she turned her attention to a confused but thankful Becky Lynch.

Sasha fronted like she was cool with Becky and didn’t want any smoke with her. Becky should know better by this point, because once she dropped her guard, Sasha put her on the mat as well.

The former Women’s champ left the ring with the champion and challenger flat on their backs, saying she’ll see them both in Baltimore this Friday.

Becky and Bianca put on the match of the night with great storytelling, great action, and a compelling finish that added another wrinkle. I pray these three women will stay on the same show post-draft.


Uso’s Had the Smoke

How much does Montez Ford have in the tank? That was the main question going into the match for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships. There’s only but so much smoke one can receive with bad ribs.

He gave it all he could but in the end, you can’t beat the Uso’s when you’re less than one hundo. Ford’s aerials gave the match a spark, specifically when he cleared the ring post for a swan dive outside of the ring and a frog splash so high, son probably caught a nose bleed. But there were moments where the Street Profits almost had all the momentum—and the smoke—but couldn’t capitalize because, ya know, Montez could barely move or breathe.

The Uso’s didn’t want it with Angelo Dawkins, a man who was ready for the war as soon as he stepped in the building. Dawkins gave Jimmy and Jey that work all night long, so of course, the champs isolated the big man from Ford whenever they could. Once the Uso’s incapacitated Dawkins, they put the finishing touches on Ford with a kick to the ribs, a double superkick, and the Uso splash in stereo.

We got the answer to the match’s main question, along with the lingering thought that the Street Profits, at full strength, might be better than two members of the Bloodline. They were close tonight, but you know that close only counts in a couple competitions. Unfortunately for the Profits, wrestling sports entertainment isn’t one of them. Consider me entertained.


Alexa’s Kryptonite

Charlotte Flair made it clear she wanted the old Alexa Bliss. No tricks. No dolls. No illusions, Michael. Much like fans of rappers with 20-year careers, she wanted that old thing back and complained very loudly.

And for the majority of the match, that’s exactly what she got. Alexa turned back the clock and took it to Charlotte sans trickery. WWE told a story of a woman who, when focused on winning a championship, is just as good as Charlotte. Alexa countered several of Charlotte’s big moves, informing us just how prepared she was for the challenge.

But the problem, and it was telegraphed on commentary, is that one mistake would give Charlotte the opening she needed. When Flair realized nothing she did was working, she pulled a move straight out of an ‘80s or ‘90s bad guy playbook. Only instead of holding a person or child hostage to distract the hero, she used a doll.

Charlotte told Alexa that Lilly represents her weakness and separates her from greatness. So it’s only fitting that when Alexa feared for Lilly’s “life” that she lost focus and subsequently lost the match.

Adding insult to injury, Charlotte hammered her point home during the post-match chicanery, flattening Alexa outside of the ring and ripping Lilly to shreds. Bliss, with the help of an antacid, foamed at the mouth in rage and her screams echoed throughout the arena. The crowd, showing their respect for Lilly, clapped and thanked Lilly for her contributions.

Yup, that’s a thing they did.

I liked the match, and if Lilly’s demise signals the end of this phase of Alexa’s career, then I’ll buy Charlotte a round. That ending with Lilly though just rubs me all types of wrong ways. The two women put on a very serious and physical match. For it to end because one of them threatened to destroy a doll is incongruent and weird.


Extracurriculars

The Infamous Damian P

Damian’s character is developing into a really clever cat who already knows the best strategy in triple threat matches is to let your opponents do most of the work for you. Priest picks his spots, takes calculated shots, but is aggressive enough to give hands to anyone who wants them.

To that point, Damian surprised Sheamus with a schoolboy rollup while the Irishman was distracted after executing a Brogue Kick on Jeff Hardy.

Damian is just smarter than Sheamus. At this point, I don’t know how many more times he needs to prove it. This felt like the end of a thing with the Draft on the horizon. If so, it was a fitting conclusion.

BUT, Sheamus did this. Even if he lost the match, this is an eternal win.

New Day Rocks Lashley

The impromptu match between the New Day x AJ Styles, Omos, & Bobby Lashley was all about one word: teamwork. The New Day have it, while the other cats can barely spell it.

Lashley isn’t a team player and he’s greedy. His ego and lust for vengeance on Big E cost his team the W. You can’t spear your teammate and expect the match to go your way. As a result, E now has two pinfall victories over the All Mighty. And both times, he looked just as dominant as Lashley and twice as focused. And it looks like they’re going to tango again on the next episode of Monday Night Raw for what looks like the last time for a while.

Good opening match that set the tone for the night. Although, sadly, no “extreme” anything. Sad.

Liv (e) Loud

Audio problems almost ruined a moment for Liv Morgan. The fans love her. Why shouldn't they, right? Beating up on Carmella, someone loathed as much as Liv is loved, will only increase that affection.

Michael Cole and Pat Mac sold it as the biggest W of Liv’s career, and it was. She beat up on a former Women’s champion in convincing fashion. WWE has something with Liv.


This was a solid Sunday night pay-per-view. The endings of two championship matches didn’t completely sully them, but did knock them down a few pegs. Overall, a fun night that moved stories forward, and probably ended several before the rosters reset on October 1. Still weird that only one match on Extreme Rules was, ya know, extreme-ish. But I was sports entertained for three hours and interested.

Grade: B

That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.