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WWE Extreme Rules 2022 recap & reactions: Philly special

WWE hit the Wells Fargo Center for Extreme Rules last night (Sat., Oct. 8, 2022) in Philadelphia and I’ll be damned if Triple H and the gang didn’t go and do it again. The new regime is doing a stellar job and where that’s most clear is in these Premium Live Events, where the storytelling is strongest, and they pay you off for paying attention.

Speaking of which…

Hot damn, the white rabbit led us right to the return of Bray Wyatt, like everyone expected it to, like it always should have. And thankfully it’s what we were given.

Wyatt is one of a kind. There are legitimate criticisms to make about the characters he’s played and how they slot into the shows he’s been on — Seth Rollins mentioned it recently — but you just aren’t getting this level of creativity anywhere else. At some point you ask yourself if it’s worth the trade off.

The reaction here sure made it seem like it’s absolutely worth it.

I’m not even going to bother to try to decipher the presentation. They seemed to run through all the old characters, and showed the Fun House full of cobwebs. Maybe leaving it all behind in favor of something new?

Then again, he brought back the lantern, which got a thunderous ovation, before unmasking to reveal himself.

I don’t know what the hell is going on. I hardly care. This was a great deal of fun, and it feels good to be swept up in it.

On a night that featured a lot of great matches and angles, the main event was a bit of a disappointment. Daniel Cormier was brought in and they made a big deal of it, giving it the top spot on the show, and it was just sort of there.

They did a ton of selling and counting, had one big spot, and Riddle just submitted Rollins clean. It felt like the finish came out of nowhere, Cormier never really got overly involved in anything, and it felt like a weak end to what’s been a fairly strong feud.

Of course, there was a major angle coming after it, with Wyatt’s return, so this will likely be forgotten quickly, but it was easily the worst thing on the show.

For the first half of the I Quit match, I wasn’t a big fan of how hard they went on the idea that Balor and Edge were beating each other to death so badly they needed to ask if they would give up that early on. Michael Cole even mentioned saving Edge for his own good.

Up to that point, he had taken arguably less offense than anyone else on the card up to that point.

Really, though, it was all just build to what would come next.

When it got really good in the second half.

They got to the point that they could tell that story when all of Judgment Day arrived and Edge ended up handcuffed to the ropes and taking kendo stick shot after kendo stick shot to the back. Rey Mysterio hit the scene to even things up a bit but his own son, Dominik, took him out to add to their issues.

Then Beth Phoenix got in and set up a dream match with Rhea Ripley that got a MONSTER response with an electric face-off. Everything that happened after everyone else got involved had a ton of heat.

In the end, Ripley took out Beth with brass knuckles, and Edge got hit with a ton of finishers and THEN it made sense for the babyface to tell ‘em to “go to hell” when Balor told him to say he quits.

And then they cut to Beth, knocked out in the ring, and Rhea grabbing two chairs to set up the conchairto.

Edge, ever the family man, which they made sure to set up in promos leading up to this, was left with no choice.

“I quit.”

Ripley did it anyway.

This had nuclear heat, and almost certainly has to be setting up something for War Games, and that’s also going to be awesome.

As slow and somewhat annoying as this was in the first half, it was that much better in the second half. This absolutely ruled.

The odds were heavily stacked against Bianca Belair, as she entered her Ladder match against Bayley without any of the backup she’s enjoyed over the past few weeks in her feud with Damage CTRL. Asuka and Alexa Bliss were unavailable to assist her should she need to fend off IYO SKY and Dakota Kai.

It didn’t matter. She did it all by herself.

She did so by, quite literally, hitting both SKY and Kai with a Kiss of Death at the very same time. She is very strong, remember.

The strongEST.

Later, she did something I can’t remember seeing before — put Bayley up for the KOD while Bayley had a ladder with her and then hit said KOD so the challenger landed directly onto the ladder, right on her face. It looked like it may have busted her lip open.

They didn’t do any really flashy spots in this match, which is long what you expect with Ladder matches in WWE, but everything they did looked incredibly painful. In that regard, it was one of the better Ladder matches in recent memory.

It was also a ringing endorsement of Belair, who, as I stated, more or less won a 1v3 here. It left no room for a second match, so it will be interesting to see where they go from here, seeing as there’s still a show before Survivor Series.

I really enjoyed the nod to the rest of their program at the start of Drew McIntyre vs. Karrion Kross, namely that it wasn’t allowed to start on time because the latter jumped McIntyre before putting the Strap on. That’s been the theme for the entire back-and-forth between these two.

McIntyre, in the end, had to finally get the upper hand and put the Strap on Kross himself before they could officially get underway.

What ensued was just the kind of beefy brawl we knew we’d be in for, with a finish we always should have expected. Just as it seemed McIntyre had it in the bag, counting down for his Claymore kick, Scarlett hit the ring and made sure it didn’t happen.

By blinding him with pepper spray.

Hey, it’s a no disqualification match. Of course this is the kind of finish we would get. It’s the only logical conclusion when one wrestler has someone to help and the other doesn’t.

It’s probably not the end of this, though, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not after this match.

As if to showcase how little attention WWE paid to the SmackDown women’s championship feud leading into this show, Ronda Rousey challenging Liv Morgan for the title was on second. Considering the fact that Roman Reigns wasn’t scheduled for this show and this was the only Extreme Rules match on the card, I assumed they could headline.

I should have known better.

By the end of it, it was mostly clear why they didn’t go on last. They worked hard, and had probably the best match these two possibly could, but they never really had the Philly faithful.

In the end, it was more or less the story they were telling all along — Morgan never really belonged in there with Rousey. That was shown in the beating she took all throughout. She got a few moments of her own, but in the end she didn’t even tap out. She simply smiled as she was being put to sleep.

I’m not entirely sure what the smile was about. She kept smiling after, even while Rousey was heeling it up to the crowd and repeatedly saying “this is my night, bitch” or something along those lines.

I suppose we’ll just have to … sigh … watch her to find out what that was all about, and see what’s next.

WWE opened the premium live event with the Imperium vs. Brawling Brutes six-man tag team match, just one night after Sheamus was screwed out of the Intercontinental championship when GUNTHER went full Chael Sonnen and tapped but not really and then cheated his way to victory.

How would they follow that up?

By building to yet another spot where GUNTHER was on the verge of tapping and allowing the tension to become palpable throughout the arena … only to have Ludwig Kaiser break it up.

You gotta love pro wrestling.

The rest of the match was the kind of madness you’d expect from a match like this. GUNTHER ended up powerbombed through a table and Giovanni Vinci was all that was left to deal with Sheamus, BUTCH, and Ridge Holland. He was ceremoniously held up to eat a Brogue Kick and give the good guys the victory and a measure of redemption.

Leading off with this match was a smart call, if for no other reason than these teams were going to deliver a banger to get the evening started off proper. And they did just that.

A fun show!

Grade: B+

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