Extreme Rules 2016 Review

I just want to preface this with the note that I am day two into a migraine that is causing me aphasia, photophobia and auras. If none of the following makes sense, that could be the reason. Or it’s not and this is just WWE’s booking. Who knows?

This PPV is sponsored by my migraine tablets and a can of Pepsi Max applied to my forehead to alleviate the sensation of death.

Extreme Rules Pre-Show

Normally I don’t bother with the pre-show or end up missing it due to time constraints (re: me playing Splatoon for too long) but I managed to get The Network on in time tonight and was slightly impressed with The Pre-Show. It had decent video packages to build suspense, Booker T and The King weren’t wildly silly and formed coherent sentences that offered substantial conversation, Paige and Becky made a nice addition to the panel when discussing the Women’s Title Match and we saw small matches that adequately set the stage for the main show.

The Dudley Boyz make an appearance to question how ‘extreme’ Extreme Rules will actually be. Big Cass interrupts them to tell them his shopping list, giving us a hint of the type of chaos to be expected during the show. It actually went down better than it sounds and Big Cass is ridiculously over, even without his buddy Enzo. He quickly beats them both up and that’s that.

The Miz cuts a promo (still don’t like him) and so does Rusev and Lana who are in the Social Media lounge with Tom receiving questions from the fans. Rusev continues with the extreme theme of the night by telling Tom he’s going to steal Kalisto’s shirt.

Baron Corbin vs Dolph Ziggler

This match is short and sweet and really doesn’t do any good nor bad for this ongoing feud. Corbin and Ziggler have a good back and forth and there are some good moves by both of them – DDT’s, dropkicks and splashes. Ziggler misses a kick and Corbin takes this opportunity to hit a low blow – he is able to nail The End of Days (love this finisher) and pick up the win. Heel uses heel tactics to pick up a win, are we extreme enough for you guys yet?

Extreme Factor: 1/10. And that’s only because of the low blow.

Extreme Rules Main Show

It’s time to head into the main show and we are greeted with more video packages of the upcoming title match between AJ Styles and Roman Reigns.

The Usos vs Gallows & Anderson – Tornado Tag Team Match

I mean, at least the stipulation is interesting and provides us with something a little bit fresh for this ongoing feud. All 4 men being legal in the ring does provide some good back and forth between them on and I feel like this is the first match G&A have had that properly displays their talent and characters. The Usos are predictable with their moveset but are offset with a fresh offensive from G&A, which allows me to maintain some interest.

The stipulation allows chaos to ensure and there are a lot of good spots to keep the audience interested – some great clothelines, superkicks (I love it, Maggle!) and outside ring action. The ringbell is grabbed by Gallows and in ring, one of The Usos (still can’t tell them apart, sorry) misses a splash from the top ropes and lands on it, which allows G&A to land their finisher and pick up the pin.

Extreme Factor: 4/10. I found it hard to get into, but that doesn’t make it a bad match. The ringbell being used was interesting, too. Happy with the win for G&A and I hope feud is laid to rest and they’re able to move on to bigger and better feuds.

Rusev (w/ Lana) vs Kalisto – WWE United States Title Match

Kalisto’s run as US champ has been… lacking, for a better word. Through no fault of his own, he has suffered by being lumped in pre-shows with lack of proper development (although his match with Ryback at the Payback Pre-Show was unexpectedly great) and it seems his title run is now due to end.

What is effectively a stylised squash match, Rusev predictably dominates throughout. Kalisto does get some chances to fight back and executes high-octane and high-flying moves wonderfully. Predictably, he stood no chance and after a fabulous moonsault on Rusev, Rusev is able to grab Kalisto and slam him hard onto the ring floor. The ref interfers and tells Rusev to pull back but he ignores him and puts him into the most brutal Accolade I think I’ve ever seen. Kalisto taps and Rusev is crowned the new US Champion.

With Rusev being the US champ again, I’m excited for him. I’ve been a fan of him from day one and love his dynamic in and out of the ring. Like Big E, a man his size doesn’t normally have the speed and flexibility that he displays and it’s excellent to watch as he defies the usual limitations. Lana is excellent as his manager and it’s great to see her back in the spotlight, instead of some shitty damsel in distress storyline.

My only small naggling issue is that I know Cena is back and I know it’s Memorial Day in The US when he does return… and I just know that Rusev is going to be fed to Cena. Again. And it’s so disheartening. I’ll be genuinely shocked if that doesn’t happen because the writing is so clearly on the wall.

Extreme Factor: 6/10 – Though short, it was great and Kalisto, whilst providing some good offensive, truly did have no chance. Rusev’s punishing finisher looked like it destroyed the small Kalisto and left a devastating impact.

The New Day vs The Vaudevillians – WWE Tag Title Match

It’s Big E and Xavier Woods who team up in this match, with Kofi staying on the sidelines with his cereal. Woods getting a turn creates a nice dynamic and keeps this team from growing stale. A small (great) promo beforehand and the match starts of with Woods in the ring taking bumps that gives The Vaudevillians the initial advantage in the match.

Woods is able to break free and get the hot tag on Big E who goes all out. Something about a man his size being able to pull of a big splash is still a sight to behold. The fight goes back and forth for a while and The Vaudevillians almost look like their able to get the win after Woods returns and is nailed by their finisher. Big E comes charging out and spears Aiden English through the ropes and outside of the ring. This allows Kofi to attack Simon Gotch with a kick whilst the ref is distracted and Woods is able to attack Gotch and pick up the win, retaining the Tag Titles.

Extreme Factor: 4/10. Lacking in the extreme department, but it’s a solid match from both teams. Nothing special but it allows The New Day to carry on being the cash cow they are for the WWE.

Kevin Owens vs Cesaro vs Sami Zayn vs The Miz (w/ Maryse) – Fatal Four Way Match for The WWE Intercontinental Title

Where do I start with this match? Truly this match is up there for match of the year. I had high hopes for this and was thoroughly pleased.

How much can I gush about all the men in this match? EVEN THE MIZ IMPRESSED ME, and that’s saying something! I still don’t like him or think he is even in the same league as the other 3, but he put on a hell of a match as the defending champion. Being around the other 3 gave him the opportunity to show that, yes, he does deserve the title and is a great wrestler. He really impressed me throughout this match.

The match starts off hot immediately with Zayn and Cesaro going at each other in the ring after kicking the other two out. The fight spills into the outside of the ring, and Miz and Owens are back involved, giving way to some great spots between all 4 men – high leaps, suplexes, powerbombs, superkicks, the lot. Some tremendous work here.

But you know, I’m a Cesaro mark through and through and all my praise goes to this man, who was the star. He excelled throughout the match and I was on the edge of my seat every time he executed a move that looked like he could seal the deal. The near pinfalls had my butt clenching as the hope of Cesaro being the IC champ almost became a reality. He dominates most of the match and takes a short run upper-cutting the hell out of everyone and putting Miz through the Cesaro Swing. The man is a God and you can’t tell me otherwise.

The match builds up to a fight between Zayn and Cesaro (I know Zayn vs Owens is amazing, but can we give credit to how well these two feed off of each other?) and Zayn pulls of a B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L sunset flip. Cesaro fights back but is suplexed by Zayn, allowing Owens to get back into the ring to attack Zayn and deliver a Popup Powerbomb on Cesaro. Miz breaks up the pin and is able to get his finisher on Owens and tries to cover Cesaro, who manages to break free after a two count.

Take a deep breath, boys, holy shit.

Miz tries to attack Cesaro sensing that this is his time to get the win, but is interrupted by Zayn who nails Cesaro with a superkick. Zayn goes for the pin on Cesaro and just when you think he has the three count, he is dragged out of the ring by Owens and LOSES HIS SHIT. Zayn becomes unravelled with anger and throws Owens into the barricade. The Miz is able to capitalise on this and he pins Cesaro, securing the win and he remains champion.

For me, I can’t think of another match in 2016 that has been this good (excluding NXT) and so far it’s the best. Everything was fantastic, even if I am bitter about Cesaro losing and The Miz retaining. But taking away my personal bias, it was the perfect match. How on earth do you follow this?

Extreme Factor: 9/10 – Whilst not necessarily more extreme than your normal 4-way match, it provided excellent spots, butt-clenching moments, great story-telling and excelled every man in the ring. Hats off, WWE, I’m going to watch this match over and over again.

Chris Jericho vs Dean Ambrose – Asylum Match

Anybody who has to follow the IC Title match is going to have a hard time, but holy hell, this match really suffers. The stipulation interested me initially but after 10 minutes, I was bored – was this a comedy match or a brutal fight to the death? The weapons didn’t get used as much as I hoped and even when they did, the effects didn’t seem as brutal. The match totals in at just under 30 minutes, which is ridiculous given how lacklustre is was. If it was half the length, it could have been better. It felt like ages before anything substantial happened.

Don’t bill a match as extreme if you can’t deliver on it – the same way that Ambrose’s street fight with Lesnar wasn’t at all a street fight but more a massacre of Ambrose’s limbs. There are a few highlights that do manage to sustain my interest – Ambrose jumping off of the top of the cage and nailing Jericho with an elbow, Jericho’s facial expressions and character actions were on point throughout the match and definitely helped sell Ambrose as a lunatic and the array of different weapons did give me something to enjoy.

Things only pick up with a bag of thumb tacks that was spilled into the ring earlier in the match is FINALLY addressed and Jericho takes a brutal slam back first into them. Blood is everywhere, thumb tacks are stuck in every part of Jericho’s body and Ambrose is able to pin him to secure the win. The match ends when it just gets started – unfortunately 20 minutes too late and after everyone is half bored to death.

Extreme Factor: 4/10. And that’s only because of the last spots of the match, which included Ambrose giving a DDT that nailed himself with some thumb tacks. I spent most of the match rolling a can of Pepsi Max over my forehead and struggling to open my eyes.

Natalya vs Charlotte – Submission WWE Women’s Title Match

The one thing I was really looking forward to with this match was the belief that it wouldn’t suffer from interruptions from ANYBODY. The video packages were great and the build-up of having a Ric Flair-less fight was exciting. Charlotte has to be one of the best women’s champions that we’ve had in a very long time here in WWE – she exudes heat naturally, she’s so gifted in ring and she has excellent ring psychology. She’s a natural. To begin with, I didn’t mind Ric Flair in her corner, being her cheerleader and supporting her but over time, having him constantly interfere and sabotage matches for what ultimately seems like his own gain was getting tiring and stale. Just give us a match like what Charlotte and Natayla had in NXT, without her dad and without silly gimmicks.

It doesn’t go that way unfortunately, and any hopes of having a match akin to what they had in NXT or Beast in The East is quickly diminished. The idea of having a submission match is a great one as both of these ladies finishers are built on their respective legacies. It should showcase their talent.

The match is barely in full swing when Ric Flair’s music plays and someone walks out disguised as him. For some reason that I honestly can’t wrap my head around, Dana Brooke interferes in the match, causes a distraction and allows Charlotte to get Natalya in the Figure 8 and pick up the win. Having Charlotte unable to win clean makes her look bad. I know it’s heel tactics and it does have some sense, but it’s fine when used sporadically, not every single damn match.

Extreme Factor: 0/10. Hated it. Ridiculously short and a poor ending.

AJ Styles vs Roman Reigns – WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match

It’s no DQ tonight, so weapons should be in abundance and interferences a-plenty. But don’t fool yourself, it’s exactly what you think it’ll be – G&A and The Usos interfere, there are a few table spots and a chair is used frequently, but that’s really it in terms of extreme. AJ Styles does take some intense bumps – most notably through the announce table (twice) and being swung into the barricades and side of the ring. Styles has around 10 years on Reigns but it never shows.

The match is full of heavy and big spots and it does add to the ‘big match feel’ and ‘extreme’ theme of the night, so credit is deserved for both men here. However, I felt like their match at Payback was better overall, in terms of flow and chemistry. Tonight felt like it was just them trying to kill each other – which, I guess, makes sense as it’s Extreme Rules and Styles is pushed to the limit in trying to secure the title. The crowd was harsh on Reigns who even after pulling of some pretty cool spots – such as powerbombing Styles through the announce table and going for a spear but missing and crashing into the barricades – are still relentlessly booing him and chanting “you can’t wrestle” or “Roman sucks”.

After going outside of the ring numerous times and the fight spilling into the crowd and up at the Pre-Show arena, the two in the ring face interruption from G&A and The Usos, which is entirely predictable.

A Phenomenal Forearm, two Styles Clashes (one being executed onto a chair), a beat down from G&A which involved The Boot of Doom and numerous chair shots and Roman Reigns is STILL able to kick out from AJ Styles. It gets a bit ridiculous when you have all that done to you, you’re supposed to be selling a “knee injury” and yet you’re still able to kick out. Reigns manages to catch Styles mid-air with a spear and it’s 1… 2… 3… DO DO DO DOOOOOO. Oh shit, wrong protected champion. It’s a win – AGAIN – for Reigns after taking a vicious beating. He remains champion.

Look, I’m not an idiot. Actually, wait, no, maybe I am an idiot? Maybe I’m an idiot for believing that this finisher-heavy match makes both Styles and Reigns look bad. Maybe I’m an idiot for knowing that whatever happens, Reigns will still walk out champion. Maybe I’m an idiot for being fed up that Reigns will just not take a loss and consistently booking him as the underdog is bad for him. Tonight wasn’t the night for him to lose however as I firmly believe he needs to hold onto the belt, but… where’s the suspension of belief that he might just maybe lose it?

Reigns does have the potential to be a great champion and I may be in the minority when I say that but his fault is with his character, which just plain, fucking sucks. Ultimately, that is the crux of the issue and it’s so obvious to everyone outside of WWE’s head office. I hate getting annoyed at WWE for this because a) do you really expect anything else? and b) I look like a mark for falling into their traps. But it just gets to the point where we all know Reigns is going to win, so why bother watching, really? At least his match with Styles at Payback was interesting, this one just felt like one of Vince’s voyeuristic dreams.

But forget about that, anyway. Reigns winning actually leads onto a new storyline, which is refreshing.

Roman Reigns is celebrating with his title whilst trying to convey genuine shock that he won when he is ambushed by Seth Rollins, making his long-awaited returned. Rollins Pedigrees Reigns and picks up the title to unanimous fucking cheering stadium wide. So ultimately, it made sense for Reigns to win. I didn’t want AJ Styles to win and in fact having Reigns win is the best way forward. You just hope they pull of a title feud between Reigns and Rollins well because this feud does have the chance to be great, especially considering the history between the two.

Extreme Factor: 7/10 – Styles took some great bumps and towards the end of the match it did gain momentum with the interferences and weapons used. Credit to both of them pulling of the final spear that got Reigns the win, it looked fucking great. Ultimately it suffers from being entirely predictable.

WWE ended Extreme Rules with the fantastic image of Rollins returning to take back what is his. I cannot wait for RAW. Thank god for Seth Rollins. Overall, it’s not a bad PPV. It certainly suffers when you market it as extreme and fail to deliver on that, but ignoring that, it’s solid and the IC Title Match is wholly deserving of Match of The Year (so far).

Additional Points:

  • Package of The Night: It was tough to decide between Big E and Seth Rollins, but just because I haven’t see him in so long, Rollins wins. Welcome home!
  • Women’s match was the worst of the night and it honestly pains me to say that.
  • I’m a Cesaro mark, let me be sad.
  • Can’t wait for Cena to come back and bury Rusev again. Sigh.
  • Should we call Childine to report JBL for abuse against Byron? Damn.
  • No McMahons? What a wonderful and delightful surprise!

Agree with me? Disagree with me? Want to have a go at me for wasting your time? Find me @Rachelskiiiiiii

 

 

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