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Extreme Rules was arguably the worst WWE PPV in history. Simply put, the booking around the show, particularly the finishes, were so bizarre that it made all fans question what they were even watching, because it really wasn’t wrestling. Wrestling doesn’t have to be super serious, it doesn’t have to only be straight-up, traditional style matches, it can be funny and it can have some loony action, but what took place at Extreme Rules was beyond the pale. The stipulations and finishes were not only misguided, they were embarrassing to watch. A lot of times people will say that certain wrestling angles that bomb would be embarrassing to non-wrestling fans who happened to see it, but Extreme Rules wasn’t embarrassing to just non-wrestling fans, it was embarrassing to wrestling as an entire business.
Perhaps the standout problem was that from a roster standpoint, the show was fine. Everyone worked really hard, even the people that were in lose-lose situations. Rollins and Mysterio was a disaster, but those guys worked their asses off. Asuka and Banks were on their way to a classic women’s championship match, but a dumb finish sucked the air out of the match. Drew and Dolph worked hard as hell in their match, but an inability to properly book a challenger for McIntyre limited how good the match could be. That is really disappointing, because it isn’t the talent that is responsible for the failures at Extreme Rules, but rather the decision makers in WWE, namely Vince McMahon and Bruce Pritchard.
I’m a pretty firm believer in that wrestling fans are wrestling fans, because they like wrestling. People may like wrestling for different reasons, but they all like wrestling, and they like the idea that they are watching characters engage in storylines built around the idea of mock competition. When you take that away, and present it as a crazy swamp battle with bad acting and awkward filming, or two guys trying to rip each other’s eye out; that just isn’t wrestling.
This wasn’t a match so I’m not giving it a rating, but if I were to give it one, it wouldn’t be very high. I’m not sure who these are for; I don’t think wrestling fans really like them, and anyone who doesn’t watch wrestling all the time that may see this match, would balk at the crappy acting, odd special effects, and senseless storytelling. This was a more of segment to set up their match at SummerSlam, which god knows what that “match” is going to end up looking like, but I didn’t find this entertaining in any way shape or form.
Strowman got the Universal Championship because Roman Reigns was supposed to win the title before taking a leave of absence. A part of the problem is that I imagine Strowman and Reigns were supposed to feud with each other, and with Reigns gone that left Strowman without an obvious opponent, but the company has really struggled to give him good opponents. I’d like to see WWE call-up Keith Lee, and give him a similar push to Strowman and protect him and treat him like a monster, but if they had Lee chained to that chair and fighting a version of himself in some sort of fever dream, he should just stay in NXT.
Rey Mysterio vs Seth Rollins: -***
Pretty much the worst thing that you can see. Now, some people will argue that this match actually wasn’t that bad, because the work in it was actually very good. In fact, it was easily the smoothest match of the night. However, this was a complete and utter disaster, something that most fans could see going into the match and it ended up being worse than I expected.
While the work was good, the problem was that the stipulation destroyed any match you could possibly have. They couldn’t do any near falls, which negates any good back and forth action you have during the match, instead having to do these senseless eye spots that were just straight up embarrassing to watch. I don’t care that Rey pulled off a lot of smooth high-flying stuff in this match; none of it ended up factoring into the match at all, because this was all about the eye spots, and those sucked.
The finish, with Rey’s eye “popping out” and then Rollins throwing up, might be the worst, most embarrassing finish in WWE history. Seriously, if I wasn’t writing this review, I would have turned off the show. The solemn tone of the announcers made everything worse. The fact that this was the best they could do with Rey Mysterio, an absolute legend in this industry is mind-boggling. Rollins and Rey could have had a really, really good regular match, but WWE doesn’t think wrestling fans want to see that, they think they want to see an eye-for-an-eye match. In a company that has had a lot of lows in 2020, this takes the cake. Trash.
Drew McIntyre vs Dolph Ziggler: ***
This was the best overall match on the show, mainly because it avoided having a ridiculous overbooked finish. The work was good, both men worked really hard, and McIntyre went over and looked strong. The only problem is that nobody believed Ziggler could win this match, so it lacked any convincing nearfalls. I wish they had planned this out a bit better, and protected Dolph over the last few months and gave him a win at the last couple of PPVs, so that people would be more inclined to believe he could actually beat Drew. Hopefully WWE moves Drew on to a feud with Randy Orton for SummerSlam.
Asuka vs Sasha Banks: **
This was like a micro-version of Mysterio vs Rollins, where the work in the match was actually good, but the finish was terrible. This wasn’t as bad as Mysterio and Rollins, because the finish was closer to typical WWE booking BS than like, a legendary bad moment, and Asuka and Banks didn’t have their match dictated by such a silly stipulation. Still, this was probably a **** match that fell apart due to a ridiculous finish that makes a mockery of the idea that wrestling is any form a mock competition. Find me another major wrestling company that would do a finish like that with the title on the line.
Nikki Cross vs Bayley: **½
Nikki Cross isn’t a bad worker at all, she is actually an above average one. That being said, WWE seems so focused on making her do goofy stuff that it takes away from her strengths and hides the fact that she is quite good in the ring. As my colleague Brian Wohl pointed out, it is similar to how they used Ambrose, as the wacky prop guy, which masked his ability to be a simple, intense badass. Both women worked hard here so the match wasn’t bad, but the weird Cross mannerisms, combined with the generic heel finish limited how good I could rate this match.
The New Day vs Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro: **¾
This was a basic tables match, with a lot of the typical spots and teases with people almost going through tables, but always managing to avoid taking the plunge. Kofi is a really hard worker, bumping and flying around, and he took the huge final bump, taking the old Ricola Bomb from the top rope through two tables on the outside which was one of the better finishes to a tables match you will see. Nakamura and Cesaro winning the titles adds a little credibility to their pairing, and it literally doesn’t matter if The New Day have the titles or not.