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Extreme Rules 2018: The Good the Bad and the Weird

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So, Extreme Rules has come and gone and well, it didn’t really feel all that extreme.

It was mainly tame, slightly broken rules. For all the hype and fanfare around the gimmicked PPV’s, this one really fell short. It was mostly dull, bland matches with few gimmicks or “extreme elements.” More annoying still was the fact that one of the few potentially extreme matches was on the pre-show. This was quite the slog to watch and unfortunately not all that enjoyable. So without further ado, let’s break this show down.

The Good

Sin Cara Doesn’t Suck?

Remember the human botch machine that was Sin Cara? The guy used to be infamous for his botching talent and sometimes laughable injuries. Well, he was nowhere to be seen on the pre-show. Much like this week’s Smackdown, he put on an excellent match alongside Andrade Cien Almas. Although he lost on both occasions, he got an excellent showing and got to use some fast and impressive offense. It was fast, fun and short enough to avoid dragging on. Almas is always excellent so it’s nice to see someone benefitting from his in-ring talents. The only downside was why the heck is one half of WWE’s newest five-star match on the pre-show?

A Successful Joke

I’m in two minds on whether this deserves to be a positive. The B-Team beat the Deleters of Worlds for the Raw Tag Team Belts. They did it with a distraction finisher, but still won nonetheless. For better or worse, they are the champions and their running joke of a streak will continue for the foreseeable future. It’s nice to see these under-utilised members of the RAW roster finally get a chance to shine. The problem is well, what are Matt and Bray going to do now? Are they going to feud again or are they just gonna get their belts back in their rematch? If they do the latter then what would have been the point of them winning in the first place? This feels like WWE taking a chance on another oddball comedy team whose shelf life is really hard to predict. For now, for the sake of entertainment, it’ll be classed as a plus.

Balor Fought the Law and Won

There were probably a lot of groans when Balor v Corbin was announced for Extreme Rules. Although both men are talented competitors, it was difficult not to believe their match together could be anything more than average. Well they certainly put on a show. It was a somewhat restrained but fun back and forth match where Corbin got to be the domineering bully and Balor the plucky underdog. It didn’t last too long but it accomplished what it needed. In the end Balor won with a roll up after reversing the End of Days and getting the three count. He got the crafty win and we know Baron will not be happy tomorrow night, so expect the feud to continue.

The New Champ and the Viper

Poor Jeff Hardy. He didn’t have a very good PPV. First he gets low-blowed by Nakamura before the bell. Instead of choosing to back out, he continues to carry on the match only to eat a Kinshasa and lose. So Nakamura is now the US Champion, excellent. Hardy now has a viable reason to want revenge after some hopeful time off, excellent. Lastly, we saw the return of a fan favourite in Randy Orton. Although it was hard not to worry if this would be boring face Orton returning to challenge the bully Nakamura. Instead he also hits Hardy in the balls and stares down Nakamura in an attempt to intimidate the new champ. This clearly isn’t regular face Orton and the idea of a battle of the heels is rather mouth-watering. Hopefully we see more of this potential new angle during or after the rematch on Smackdown.

Rest in Peace Kevin Owens

How many times is Braun going to try and kill Kevin Owens? It genuinely seems like Braun wants to kill him at this point. The two had a cage match and well it certainly felt like one. Both men took several turns being bashed around the cage and there was more back and forth than most probably expected. It wasn’t just Braun beating up Kevin for ten minutes and breaking out the cage. Instead KO tried to handcuff Braun and mockingly climb out the cell since his regular offence isn’t working. He takes too long to gloat however and Braun breaks the flimsy cuffs after an unrealistic amount of struggling (we’re meant to believe the man can tip cars and ambulances.) Braun then pursues KO up the cage and after holding him atop the cage for a few seconds, launches him into an announce table. The fall looked nasty and although KO may have won the match, he certainly didn’t look like a winner.

Lashley Triumphs

The Big Dog certainly got neutered last night. Although it wasn’t an exceptionally entertaining match, we certainly can now appreciate the power of Bobby Lashley. After a lot of back and forth tussling with Reigns and some nasty bumps, Lashley put Roman in his place and became the new owner of the yard. To add insult to injury he even beat Roman with his own finisher, spearing Roman after getting hit with the Superman Punch. After beating Roman this surely means he will now be the new number one contender or at least be in reaching distance of the belt. The result is the only reason this is a positive as A) they’re finally doing something right with Lashley and B) the match on its own and with a Roman victory would not have been worth a positive.

It’s Still Rusev Day to Me

He may not have won the belt but it is still worth celebrating the fact that Rusev got a title shot and put on an excellent match with Styles. Sure Aiden English cost him the match and sure it would be much nicer that he won but instead of focusing on the bad let’s focus on the good. Rusev was in another high-profile match where he went move for move with the champ and almost won. He got to show off and hopefully he may even get more chances at titles in the future. We all know this probably won’t happen but let’s try and be optimistic. It was just nice to see Rusev get to perform on a bigger stage in a high stakes match. Now we’ll probably see him feud with Aiden English or something.

A Proper Main Event

Iron man matches are always going to be hit or miss. Since they are designed to be long form matches, stamina and pacing are incredibly important. Thankfully this was only a thirty minute match put on by two pros with some excellent writing. It started with Seth getting the upper hand going three falls up, one of which granted by some Drew interference. However Drew did a lot of damage and we would soon see Dolph get back on level terms. Dolph would then get another fall and the match would be at four-three for the next few minutes. Seth would get more and more desperate to level the score. With only three minutes or so left he would finally go four to four but would fail to get the fifth fall for the win. Since it was a tie, Dolph won and Seth was heartbroken.

It wouldn’t end there though as Kurt then came out and made a sudden death final fall. This didn’t benefit Seth either though as within a few seconds, he had eaten the fifth pin. Drew distracted Seth and allowed Dolph to hit a final finisher. Seth still leaves a loser but it isn’t down to being outclassed merely outnumbered. It’s highly unlikely this feud is over.

The Bad

Jumping the Shark

I should have seen this a mile away but even I couldn’t quite fathom the depths of annoying and insipid writing this feud could sink too. The shark cage is a tried and tested way of allowing managers to still interfere in matches. Ellsworth proved this again only in a bumbling, Mr Bean like fashion. So after dropping items to Carmella and Asuka reversing them, Ellsworth eventually managed to unlock the cage and somehow, because of the leg warmers he was wearing, got caught on the cage so he was left hanging like a chinless piñata. Asuka got distracted kicking the hell out of him and was run into the cage by Carmella. This is the finish to the match and once again Carmella’s Robin helps her win. Asuka gets to look stupid again but at least this time she gets to murder Ellsworth. I hope they either end the feud or give her the belt for working through this awful program.

Hell No

First off, I have to concede that having the Bludgeon Brothers attack Team Hell No early on in the night was a good idea. Even the idea of having Bryan go out and fight solo was a fairly good one and it would have had Bryan go down fighting like a warrior. This was all undermined by having Kane hobble out, fail to deal with the brothers and then become dead weight. We understood he had been injured so it would have made sense for him to be unable to come out. This could have opened up more story threads for Team Hell No too as Bryan could be suspicious of Kane’s actual injury or willingness to help. Instead they just look like overzealous idiots beaten to a pulp. To some this’ll be a good thing. To me it just makes Kane look like an idiot. Again much like the B-Team victory, I can’t quite be fully positive or negative about it but in this case it just leaves me disappointed.

Extremely Predictable

So, the RAW Women’s Title match wasn’t very good. It was predictable and suffered from overbooking. Since Natalya accompanied Nia to the ring and Ronda was in the crowd, it was inevitable that she would come to save the day. As expected this happened when Nia was taken out of the match and Natalya tried to get involved. Alexa and Mickie (who had accompanied Alexa) would then beat up Natalya until Ronda snapped. She would jump the barrier and destroy Mickie James. Unfortunately she would then be attacked by her as she tried to focus her attention on Alexa, eating several kendo stick shots. Alexa then hit Jax with a DDT onto a chair and would get the win. This writes off Jax and sets up Alexa/ Ronda for Summerslam. Unfortunately for the first of its kind and the only extreme rules match on the card, it was dull and rushed failing to fully utilise the gimmick and becoming and obvious vehicle for a future feud.

The Weird

A Lack of Extreme

For a gimmick PPV, this felt very tame. There were only three matches where the rules could be broken with one of those being on the pre-show. As a brief aside, I would like to add that the Sanity v New Day tables match was an excellent match and could have easily been on the main show. The other two were the cage match and the titular extreme rules match. It would have made sense to utilise the PPV name to set up other extreme focused matches. For example why could Corbin v Balor not be a street fight or no DQ match? To push Roman and Bobby to the next level why not have it be a last man standing? There just seems to be a lack of extreme matches on the extreme pay per view. Maybe they’re trying to show some restraint?

In Conclusion

This was a long and at times tiresome PPV to watch. Through some bad booking and irritating choices, this PPV would become a chore to watch and had me throwing my hands in the air on more than one occasion. In most cases I was willing to let the good show through but it was tricky to not poke holes in the PPV. Roman vs Bobby was a rather boring affair and the continued saga of Asuka’s idiocy is grating. Ellsworth coming back was great as a onetime thing but now he is ruining a potentially competitive feud. I used to defend Ellsworth and hell in any other situation I probably still would but this business with Asuka needs to end before it ruins her character beyond repair.

Lastly, we should see Brock on tomorrow’s RAW. He has been delivered an ultimatum to get his ass to RAW and set a title defence or be stripped of the title. Either option is good as we’ll get to see the belt for the first time in ages. Hopefully we see a defence set up that finally gives us a new champion or a more motivated Brock. We’ll soon see.

John is a UK based wrestling obsessive who still wants to believe the Bullet Club is fine. He is always tearing the business apart and first realised wrestling was for him when he saw Mankind fall from the top of the cell at King of the Ring 1998.

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