Assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups. I had assumed that this was going to be one of those pay-per-views that just hits on every level. My expectations going into this one were unbelievably high, sinceย Extreme Rulesย boasted a deeply promising card. Unfortunately, it didn’t deliver quite to the level I had hoped.ย It is, however, easily the best PPV since this year’sย WrestleMania. The main-event delivered in spades, while we also saw great matches for the Cruiserweight and Intercontinental Championships. Another thing of note is how well it dealt with its stories. The beautifully edited promo-packages only helped get these narratives across.

With quite a sizeable dip in the middle of proceedings,ย Extreme Rulesย did end up leaving a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. One such waste of my time was an ill-conceived mixed-tag match, which seemed only there to help the crew prepare for the next segment. Even worse was Alexa Bliss‘ beatdown of Bayley, a wasted opportunity that should have been so much more. Add a thoroughly average cage-match into the mix and the positives ofย Extreme Rulesย find themselves balanced out. I’m, frankly, still furious about Bliss’ unremarkable performance, but we’ll come to that in good time…

The Kick-Off Show

A kick-off show is a kick-off show. You really can’t get too critical about it, as it’s basically just a dark-match and some laboured discussion. I’ve already made it clear in my tweets, but i’m a huge Sam Roberts fan so it was great to have him on the panel. In fact, he’s so good that he consistently showed up the others around him; be it David Otunga, Nia Jax or even Kurt Angle. Otherwise, the #AsktheHardyz session was nothing more than an arse-licking aside and we were treated to some wonderful promo-packages. Apollo Crews and Kalisto put on a sparkling little dark-match. Each put a lot of effort in, but it’s interesting to see just how well Kalisto is doing away from the Lucha Dragons. At this point, it felt like something was in the air…

The Mizย (w/ Maryse) vs. Dean Ambrose
(WWE Intercontinental Championship)

Although I was expecting big things fromย Extreme Rulesย in general, I can’t say that I was prepared for how good this match was. Straight away, it became clear just how personal of a bout it would be. They really got into it on this one, with both participants showing off some quality athleticismย andย the ring-psychology to go along with it. Except for a quick bit at the start, where Ambrose’s DQ finish was briefly teased, the whole added stipulation was played off very well. The finish, seeing Miz pushing Ambrose into the ref, then pinning him when distracted, was classic and made total sense. Ambrose is now unshackled by a transitional belt, and The Miz actually deserves it for a surprisingly memorable performance. If it weren’t for the main-event, this would have been the best match on the card.

Rich Swann & Sasha Banks vs. Noam Dar & Alicia Fox

This match was far worse than the Kick-Off’s. In fact, it felt likeย thisย should have been the card’s dark-match. Sure, I think that Dar is just about the worst athlete on the roster, but I also thought that Swann could keep things sailing. Even his well-executed high-flying couldn’t grip me into this. As for Banks, and Fox in particular… How well are the women’s divisions doing for bothย Rawย andย SmackDown Live? If you don’t know already, the answer is that they’re pulling out all the stops and putting the men to shame. With that in mind, why do Banks and Fox think it’s okay to cat-fight through a throwaway match? Watching them claw at each other was painful for all the wrong reasons. Dar and Swannย did one or two enjoyable manoeuvres, but this wasย no better than what we see onย 205 Liveย week-in, week-out.

Alexa Bliss vs. Bayley
(WWE Raw Women’s Championship

I’ve been saying for a while just how much to offer Bliss has. Since I know that Bayley can handle a good match, I expected this to be the first time we truly see the WWE ladies get nice and extreme. That’s exactly why this awful segment makes me so viscerally angry. There was nothing to this whatsoever. Practically instantly, the kendo stick saw itself released from its pole. Surely the whole point was to build up some suspense as they both try and fail to grasp out at it? Instead, Bayley takes control of it almost as soon as the bell rings before losing it for chasing Bliss around too long. Once Bliss is done with an unimpressive kendo-beating, she takes the victory and leaves before anyone can cry, “Bullshit!”. Rest assured, this was bullshit. Bliss is on probation in my head and has to work this insult off.

Cesaro and Sheamus vs. The Hardy Boyz
(WWE Raw Tag Team Championship)

This match went just about how you’d expect. It had a couple of exciting bumps, as a steel-cage match kind ofย hasย to, but the majority of it seemed to be finding a way to carry the Hardys. I get it; I loved the Hardys at their peak. It’s just, they’re so ridiculously far from their peak that I don’t know why they’re being given the time of day. Things got rather slapstick and odd throughout this, as silly races and scrambles for the top took over wrestling psychology and athleticism. I remain steadfast that Cesaro and Sheamus haveย incredibleย potential. It’s merely a matter of time before they live up to it. Or split up. The formula with them seems to be to throw them into some undeserving match to hold up less capable teams. Just wait. When they break out of these shackles, we’ll see something special.

Neville vs. Austin Aries
(WWE Cruiserweight Championship)

This was probably the biggest positive surprise on the card. We know that Neville and Aries can both go. We know that they can go with each other;ย 205 Liveย has been shoving that down our throats enough. I’ve just never been that buzzed by submission matches. To make matters look worse, i’d grown quite sick of clashes between these two. Indeed, what else could they do? In this match, both participants showed resoundingly what else they can do. In a match that was packed with nice athleticism, we also saw a psychology that almost matched Ambrose vs. The Miz in its intensity. While this does mean that we’re probably going to see more of Neville and Aries clashing in the future, this also proved that there’s still some life in that vein. As said in my tweet, I could take a Neville reign for some time.

Samoa Joe vs. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Bรกlor vs. Bray Wyatt

Strangely enough, I didn’t even think about or consider this match in the run-up toย Extreme Rules. I was so centred on the Bliss/Bayley bout that I put this to one side. In many ways i’m not the biggest fan of four or five-ways, so I likely decided to leave predicting anything about it and just wait to watch it. I’m glad I took that approach. What I was presented with turned out to beย an explosive and beautifully performed near-masterpiece. Literally every participant made a nice mark and contributed in some way to the overall storytelling. What really sticks out about this, beyond the athleticism of the wrestlers themselves, is the way it was crafted. It wasn’t the clusterfuck I expected, coming across more as a well-focused showcase ofย Raw‘s top talent.

While I know that many fans are behind Joe facing Brock Lesnar, I find the situation a confusing one. Despite Joe’s long and respected career, in my ignorance I’ve yet to see too much evidence of his apparent overwhelming talent. I accept that it’s the way he’s been treated by WWE, but I find him to be a limited bore. How his character will clash with Brock is something I simply can’t imagine. I certainly can’t imagine it being a particularlyย goodย match. It’s been suggested that an injury could eventually put Joe out before the final championship match, but that’s pure speculation. Whatever I think, that would be a bit of a stupid diversion.

All in all, and having watched it for a second time, i’m quite happy to conclude thatย Extreme Rulesย is a very good PPV. If Bliss and Bayley had given it their all we’d have had a top-tier PPV on our hands. Yet, with too much of a dip in the middle of this, it would be hard to give itย ย any kind of perfect score. Luckily, the majority of proceedings delivered. It could have been even better if more time was taken in introducing individual stipulations too. Rushing marred this year’sย Extreme Rules but, through it all, the abilities of a profoundly skilled roster shone through. There’s still a lot of room for improvement, but I feel a drive in the ring that’s been absent for years.

Be sure to follow our Twitter, and like our Facebook too, for future live-streams!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *