Extreme Rules, much like its cousins TLC and Hell in a Cell, is a tumultuous concept for the modern WWE to tackle. Yes we all enjoyed the savage bloodbath of the No DQ Attitude era slugfests where performers took skull-shattering chair shots and spine-crushing ladder bumps like there was no tomorrow, but the company is no longer suited to that style of wrestling anymore. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing of course; one needs only to look to the success of NXT to see that the “reality” era is hardly at fault. So while we certainly weren’t going to be seeing shades of CZW or even ECW styles of brutality, was there enough quality wrestling on display to compensate for the watered-down “extreme” concept?
No DQ Match: Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin
So yeah these two are still feuding, while their match at Payback would have hardly made for a fitting conclusion I really think this could have been blown off on a Raw or Smackdown. It seems that WWE has nowhere else to put them on the card for now. The match was pretty standard for the pre-show; Ziggler makes Corbin’s offence look devastating, there’s some nice continuation from Payback with Corbin kicking out of the roll-up, and they somewhat make use of the No DQ stipulation after Corbin picks up the win from a low blow and the subsequent End of Days.
Tornado Tag Match: The Uso’s vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
This match was perfectly competitive; letting the Uso’s get in their superkick lenient offence just enough to not make them look like pansies while Anderson & Gallows tore them apart with their stiff offence. The Tornado Tag stipulation was handled well as the match was suitably chaotic but never messy. While some might see the use of the ring bell at the end as a way to discredit their win, it was the unparalleled synchronised deviousness and voracity of Gallows & Anderson which prevailed over “The Bloodline” bullshit.
US Title Match: Rusev vs. Kalisto (C)
Some more solid booking as the newly revitalized Bulgarian Brute proved too much for the gutsy Cruiserweight sensation. Though it’s not quite as mind-blowing as it appeared in his early debut/NXT days Kalisto’s luchadore acrobatics are still a sight to behold as he threw Rusev off his game with Hurricaranas and a Moonsault to the outside of the ring. The ending kept his fighting spirit attached as Rusev threw him savagely onto the apron then practically tore him in half as he locked in the Accolade behind the official’s back. There was no denying how ridiculous it looked when Rusev struggled to reach the ring ropes while the tiny Kalisto locked him in the sleeper though.
Tag Team Title Match: The New Day’s Xavier Woods & Big E (C) vs. The Vaudvillians
A pretty quick but damn enjoyable bout that put over Xavier Woods more than anyone and somehow I’m content with that. The Vaudvillians managed to show off some of their bruiser offence but were ultimately thwarted by the number’s game that has stopped so many challengers before them. There are a few questionable booking decisions here, with Xavier kicking out of The Vaudvillians finishes and Kofi giving the assist from the outside but they can be mostly justified. Here’s hoping The Vaudvillians don’t slide too far down the card, especially with the tag-team division heating up the way it is now.
Fatal 4-Way Intercontinental Title Match: The Miz (C) vs. Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro
This match had clear potential for greatness but despite this it managed to exceed my expectations gloriously. I think a lot of what made this match so excellent was the tangible storyline and chemistry between all of these performers; practically everyone has history with one another with plenty of reason to want the other guy to lose. Every performer looked amazing here, Cesaro was a damn machine, Zayn was valiant and unwavering, Miz was devious and calculating and Owens was so ruthless. The match felt like it could have ended at any point but in the end it was the deviousness of Miz who took advantage of Zayn’s blind hatred for Owens to pick up the stolen pin on Cesaro. See how I mentioned everyone’s name in that sentence, that’s a clear indication of how well-crafted this match was.
“Asylum” Match: Chris Jericho vs. Dean Ambrose
Damn it guys, with the last few Raw segments and the decent Payback match I was hoping you’d be able to overcome the troublesome stipulation to capitalize on the momentum your feud seemed to have going. This match was so cumbersome and repetitive that the handful of legitimately great moments were not nearly enough to redeem its overall mediocrity. I can’t really blame either of the guys though who took some hellacious bumps some nasty weapon spots to boot but it all should have been done in half the time. Highlights included nunchuck wielding Ambrose, flying elbow Ambrose and how could I forget thumbtack covered Jericho. This match should have just done all its cool shit at once and been done with it, would have saved us all a solid 15 minutes.
Women’s Title Submission Match: Natalya vs. Charlotte (C)
With the promise of ol’ Ric being absent from ringside it was looking like WWE was either going to give Natalya a nice “thank you” Women’s Title run or they were finally going to let Charlotte be the dominating presence she was meant to be (fucking look at her for God’s sakes). Unfortunately, this match saw the ladies putting in a significantly inferior performance to their last bout at Payback and Charlotte won via a distraction from Dana Brooke. Charlotte had plenty of offence in the match as well, it really wouldn’t have been a stretch to see her win clean, but no we get fucking Dana Brooke.
No DQ World Heavyweight Title Match: Roman Reigns (C) vs. AJ Styles
All frustrations about shoddy booking aside, both these guys put in a huge performance and took each other to the absolute limit. There’s no denying the chemistry they have as Styles has to use every bit of his technical mastery to not get destroyed by Reign’s relentless offence. The two table bumps Styles took were crazy, and paired with the array of other precarious situation he was put through it’s a miracle he was on Raw. But then the great match was interrupted by the unconvincing storyline in the form of Gallows & Anderson and the damned Uso’s coming in and breaking up pinfalls and hitting their bloody finishers. The match ended with Reigns putting Styles away with a Spear and while I know the amount of punishment Styles took justifies him going down it was still so sour after Reigns kicked out of an obscene amount of punishment. We weren’t done yet though…
Xavier Woods Boma Ye! +1
JBL threatening to murder Saxton, poor taste mate -1
PVRIS’ “Fire” +1
Kevin Owens +1
SETH FUCKING ROLLINS +1