I gotta say, I had a lot of fun watching Extreme Rules. Last year, I called out what I perceived as a lack of extreme stipulations. This year, WWE definitely stood up and did a great job. Match of the night honors go to Strowman and Lashley, followed behind by Aleister and Cesaro. My least favorite match of the night was the SmackDown Women’s Championship match.
- Reigns & Undertaker vs McMahon & McIntyre
- The Revival vs The Usos
- Aleister Black vs Cesaro
- Bayley vs Bliss & Cross
- Braun Strowman vs Bobby Lashley
- Smackdown Tag Team Title Match
- Ricochet vs AJ Styles
- Kofi Kingston vs Samoa Joe
- Corbin/Evans vs Rollins/Lynch
WWE Extreme Rules took place Sunday night at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the birthplace of Extreme Championship Wrestling, Philadelphia is the perfect location for an event WWE hypes every year as a little more violent, a little more deranged and little more exciting than the normal pay-per-view. The show was highlighted by the mixed-tag-team match between the team of Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch versus Baron Corbin and Lacey Evans, the winners of the match would respectively receive the Universal Championship and the RAW Women’s Championship. Elsewhere, we saw Kofi Kingston defend his WWE Championship against Samoa Joe and we witnessed the return of the Deadman teaming up with the Big Dog to take on the team of Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre in a “No Holds Barred” tag team match.
The Undertaker and Roman Reigns vs. Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre
After his dreadful performance in Saudi Arabia, this was a definite step-up for the future Hall of Famer. I really liked the introduction of Elias to give the heels the edge in the numbers-game and Shane and Drew looked like great heels. Shane connected on an elbow drop on the announce table and a Coast to Coast careening a trash can into the Deadman’s face. I absolutely loved the camera shot of Drew peering over the Undertaker’s shoulder as he was about to deliver a Tombstone Piledriver to Shane, too. For as much as I’ve complained about Shane and Undertaker matches in the past few months, this was a very fun match to kick off the show. Roman and Drew were able to carry a good bit of the mechanical workload, allowing for the two older superstars to deliver their laundry list of signature moves. Good opener.
Winner: The Undertaker and Roman Reigns Time: 17:00 Rating: 3 Stars
The Revival (C) vs. The Usos
These two teams are two of the best tag teams on the WWE roster in the last five years. It’s almost impossible for them to have a bad match, especially with one another. The Revival were able to use some “Heel Tag Team 101” in this match to gain an advantage as well as draw some heat from the crowd such as distracting the referee from a clean Uso tag, rolling out of the ring whenever the momentum of the match isn’t flowing in their favor or calling for a referee involvement before a beat down from the illegal man in the match-up. Good match, although not very memorable.
Winner: The Revival Time: 12:35 Rating: 2.5 Stars
Aleister Black vs. Cesaro
Oh man, was I looking forward to this match when it was announced on Tuesday. Cesaro, one of the strongest men pound-for-pound on the WWE roster as well as one of the best technical workers, and Aleister Black, an intelligent and deadly striker who is one of the best overall prospects called up from NXT in quite some time. If there was anyone on the roster who could properly showcase the skills and attributes of the Dutch Destroyer on the main roster, it was Cesaro.
There were lots and lots of kicks between the two men, especially since kicks are a large bulk of Black’s striking offense. Naturally not one to be outshined, Cesaro would respond with his own kicks to Black’s legs and mid-section. There were flying corkscrews from Cesaro, springboard backflips by Black and at one point, a heavy-duty European uppercut from Cesaro where he was able to carry his opponent halfway across the ring before launching him into the air. I liked this match a lot and I hope it’s the first step in a strong new push toward some championship gold for the former NXT Champion.
Winner: Aleister Black Time: 9:45 Rating: 3.5 Stars
Bayley (C) vs. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross
I don’t know what it is, but these three just don’t have good chemistry in the ring. These three just don’t create any meaningful sequences in the ring, but instead, just go from spot-to-spot until the finish. These three have all been a part of good matches in the past, but this was just satisfactory at best. Bliss knocked Bayley off the apron into the steel ring steps, moving momentum back in the hands of the heels. Bayley attempted to fight-off Nikki’s tactic of catching her opponent in the ring apron, but Bliss baseball-slided her in the back and knocked her out of commission once again. Bayley broke out a deathlock on Nikki at one point and even snuck in a crossface on Bliss at the same time. Again, fine match, but very mediocre.
Winner: Bayley Time: 10:30 Rating: 2 Stars
Braun Strowman vs. Bobby Lashley
I think I’ve overused the term “Clash of the Titans” when talking about these two. But, this was truly one that lived up to that moniker here in Philadelphia. Brawling all over the building, destruction and carnage, this was a lot of fun while also seeming like a back-and-forth battle that either man could win. Braun slammed Lashley into the wall of merchandise on the concourse, eliciting a “Holy shit” chant from the Philadelphia faithful. Lashley speared Braun through the barricade back into ringside, which nearly made the latter’s head hit the steel ring steps. After throwing each other into the international row of announcers, I was surprised there wasn’t a return to the “exploding stage” spot we saw two weeks ago on RAW. But, I will admit the power slam off the ledge in the crowd was pretty exciting in its own right as well. Although I wanted more weapons spots, this was still very, very fun.
Winner: Braun Strowman Time: 17:30 Rating: 3.5 Stars
Daniel Bryan and Rowan (C) vs. The New Day vs. Heavy Machinery
This was a total car crash, but in a good way. Heavy Machinery continues to impress me in the ring, and honestly, I think they look and work better in the ring now than they did in NXT. (That suplex-turn-crossbody Tucker and Otis did was insane). The New Day went forward with their tried-and-true formula of Xavier getting the brunt of Bryan’s submissions and Rowan’s head-crunching fists before Big E got the hot tag and took out his fury on Bryan. I was surprised they decided to take the belts off Bryan and Rowan in favor of the New Day, but I’m sure this is to build up a nice photo-op of all three members wearing gold before each of their next big challenges at SummerSlam. A very fun match where all six guys were able to showcase their skills.
Winner: The New Day Time: 14:00 Rating: 3 Stars
Ricochet (C) vs. AJ Styles
Both men wrestle a very similar style that includes more leg-based and high-flying offense than your usual, run-of-the-mill superstar. I liked the interference by the Club to build up AJ more as a heel as well as the decision to give AJ the belt to give more heel legitimacy to the Club. I wish they could have given Ricochet a few more months with the belt instead of just playing “hot potato” with it, but he is almost assuredly due for a rematch. Ricochet was again able to show-off his high-flying offense to wow the crowd, but it doesn’t help when you have two extra fly swatters outside the ring to knock you back down to Earth. Good match and one I hope we can see again soon.
Winner: AJ Styles Time: 16:30 Rating: 2.5 Stars
Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler
This wasn’t worthy of a rating to me because of its length. I like both guys, buy why was this on the main card? I understand the idea of giving KO a satisfying victory and a fiery promo to throw some more fire on his feud with Shane McMahon, but again: Why now?
Winner: Kevin Owens Time: 0:17
Kofi Kingston (C) vs. Samoa Joe
Joe harkening back to Kofi’s middle-finger promo on SmackDown a couple of weeks ago by breaking the champion’s fingers on the steel ring steps was brilliant and a great call-back during the match. I didn’t hate this match, but I would have liked it to have gone a little longer than less-than-10-minutes run time. But I guess the story they wanted to tell is one “Trouble in Paradise” is all Kofi needs to retain the WWE Championship. I’m a self-admitted Samoa Joe fan, so I would have liked to have seen him grab a win here, but again, I’m happy that Kofi gets another month as champion. Samoa Joe matches have always been enjoyable to me because they can be stiff, but they’re also snug and technical at the same time. Good, but I have a feeling that this could have been better.
Winner: Kofi Kingston Time: 9:45 Rating: 2.5 Stars
Seth Rollins (C) and Becky Lynch (C) vs. Baron Corbin and Lacey Evans
I loved the Rick Rude-esque mind games of having Seth’s name embroidered on Lacey’s wrestling bottoms. It’s not exactly “the return of the Attitude Era,” but it’s a nice adult touch that I would like to see more of on TV, especially from a sultry heel character like hers. I was a big fan of the dual kendo stick attacks by the faces on the heels and the dual kendo stick attack on Rollins by Corbin and Evans. Becky just dominated Lacey whenever they were the legal women, but I will give Lacey credit for what was her best showing on the main roster so far. Her punches looked crisp, her charisma was turned all the way up and she even broke out a very good-looking moonsault midway through the match.
At the match’s climax, I was a huge fan of the decision to have Baron Corbin deliver an End of Days to Becky Lynch and deliver a “What are you gonna do about it?” trash talk beat down to Seth. This feud has had a tendency of remaining flat during segments on television and circling the same routes run by previous feuds all while not adding anything of noteworthy originality. Having a heel attack the girlfriend of the top babyface on the brand and rubbing it in his face? Pure brilliance. Shout-out to Baron for executing that spot to perfection and shout-out to whoever came up with and booked that idea for the climax of the match. Additionally, I have to give some love to Seth for mentally snapping after said spot and delivering the proper facial expressions and vitriol behind his chair shots and Curb Stomps on the challenger. Together (including Becky for taking the move), they created one of the most exciting moments of the night.
Winner: Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch Time: 19:55 Rating: 3 Stars
Seth Rollins (C) vs. Brock Lesnar
Just when we thought we were done for the night, we had one more match added on by Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman, the latter of whom made good on his promises from earlier this month as well as earlier in the night. Like with the Owens-Ziggler match, this was too short to warrant a rating. But, I want to keep an open mind for how they use Brock in his third run as the Universal Champion. Logic would dictate Seth gets the immediate rematch at SummerSlam, but like I said, I’m keeping an open mind for how they go forward after essentially hitting the reset button on the title picture and taking it back to how it looked before WrestleMania.
Winner: Brock Lesnar Time: 0:13
Overall Thoughts: I gotta say, I had a lot of fun watching Extreme Rules. Last year, I called out what I perceived as a lack of extreme stipulations. This year, WWE definitely stood up and did a great job. Match of the night honors go to Strowman and Lashley, followed behind by Aleister and Cesaro. My least favorite match of the night was the SmackDown Women’s Championship match.
Final Extreme Rules Rating: 3 Stars