16th Jul2018

‘WWE Extreme Rules 2018′ PPV Review

by Nathan Favel

wwe-extreme-rules-2018-banner

Welcome to the WWE Extreme Rules 2018 review! I’m Nathan Favel and we have lots to cover, so we should get right to it.

Match #1: Andrade “Cien” Almas def. Sin Cara (Kickoff Match)

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

Two wins, no problem for Andrade “Cien” Almas, who repeated against Sin Cara at WWE Extreme Rules Kickoff despite a blistering effort by Almas’ onetime mentor — and thanks in no small part to his business manager Zelina Vega. Both Superstars came out swinging in the opening minutes of their rematch (literally in Almas’ case), but Sin Cara’s aggression got the better of him when he whiffed on a suicide dive and aggravated the same elbow Almas had previously injured. Reduced to one arm, The International Sensation turned to his legs, employing a wild variety of springboards and hurricanranas to slow Almas down the stretch, culminating in a leaping hurricanrana from the turnbuckle to the apron.

Vega, who stayed out of the action early in the contest, quickly made her presence known after The International Sensation pancaked Almas with a picture-perfect Frog Splash, climbing on the apron to distract the ref and thwart Sin Cara’s pinfall attempt. El Ídolo capitalized, plowing a preoccupied Sin Cara into the turnbuckle before following up with his running knees and devastating Hammerlock DDT for the win. Give Sin Cara credit for learning from his mistakes, but he forgot that while Andrade “Cien” Almas might be in the ring by himself, he’s never alone in the fight.

My Take: This felt like a piss-break match from Smackdown, instead of a PPV bout. They both worked hard, but this feud is already starting to peak.

Match #2: SAnitY def. The New Day (Kickoff Tables Match)

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

WWE Network played host to a very different kind of Table for 3 at WWE Extreme Rules Kickoff, where SAnitY defeated The New Day in a ferocious Tables Match that marks the biggest victory yet for the ascendant hellraisers of SmackDown LIVE. New Day were understandably confident heading into the match; SAnitY’s early win-loss record suggested a bit of a learning curve and Eric Young, Killian Dain & Alexander Wolfe were seemingly still finding their footing early in the match, especially after Dain fell victim to an early miscue that left the trio wounded. Apparently identifying Dain as the X-factor of SAnitY, New Day employed a variety of attacks to take out The Beast of Belfast, including a uranage-backstabber combo from Big E and Xavier Woods to a Trouble in Paradise from Kofi Kingston.

Unfortunately for New Day, they focused on one member of SAnitY at the expense of the other two. With Dain finally dispatched, Kingston found himself stranded on the apron, where he hoped to suplex Alexander Wolfe into a table at ringside. Wolfe responded by biting The Dreadlocked Dynamo, setting him up for a wicked elbow drop from Eric Young that plowed Kingston through the table and brought the match to an end. SAnitY may still have a few kinks to work out in terms of pinfall victories, but in a match that hinges on pure devastation, they clearly felt right at home.

My Take: At least they got around to the table spots. There’s nothing here that would suggest that there was a great match in the works, but every wrestler looked solid here.

Match #3: The B-Team def. “Woken” Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt to become the new Raw Tag Team Champions

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

The clock struck midnight at WWE Extreme Rules, though not for the tag team you might expect. Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas’ miracle run to the Raw Tag Team Championships ended in a stunning victory over “Woken” Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt, completing a remarkable reversal of fortune for a team that had been winless before rebranding as The B-Team a couple of months ago. As jubilant as The B-Team were after their title win, it was an even more shocking loss for Hardy & Wyatt, who were undefeated as a team after joining up to form The Deleters of Worlds. Given that The B-Team had scored individual wins over Hardy heading into the pay-per-view, they unsurprisingly built their game plan around isolating The Woken One from Bray Wyatt, and for good reason. Dallas & Axel struggled to find an answer for the former WWE Champion in the opening moments of the match, and The Reaper of Souls’ re-entry into the contest seemed to swing it in the champions’ favor within a matter of seconds.

The B-Team, however, had clearly progressed more than the champions had given them credit for, and they turned their attention back to Hardy when he tagged back in to set up the Kiss of Deletion to Bo Dallas. Axel climbed on the apron to break up the maneuver, and Dallas quickly followed up, shoving Hardy into Wyatt and dropping The Woken One with a hanging rolling cutter off the ropes — earning a victory that seemingly solidified their belief that the “B” in B-Team stands for “best.” Now, Dallas & Axel’s Cinderella story extends to chapter two, while Hardy & Wyatt face a task even more daunting than deletion: A reset.

My Take: It was nice to see Axel and Dallas get the straps here. The match was nothing much, but the finish is the whole thing, any-way. Good for the new champions.

Match #4: Finn Bálor def. “Constable” Baron Corbin

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

As Stephanie McMahon’s personally-appointed Constable of Raw, Baron Corbin may make the rules, but Finn Bálor laid down the law at WWE Extreme Rules, adding another wrinkle into a brief but scathing rivalry that had taken the classic big-man-vs.-little-man rivalry into a highly personal realm over the last couple of weeks. Given that The Constable already owns a win over the first-ever Universal Champion (albeit in tag team action), Corbn’s boasts weren’t exactly empty. As if to prove his point, The Lone Wolf completely overwhelmed his opponent thanks to a combination of pitch-perfect scouting and a ground-and-pound strategy that often left Bálor peeling himself off the mat. Even when The Extraordinary Man began to create separation with his speed, he found himself often leaping headlong into Corbin’s clutches, where more punishment awaited in the form of a chokeslam backbreaker and Deep Six.

Bálor showed his grit by kicking out of all Corbin’s big maneuvers, though it seemed unlikely he could survive the onslaught for much longer as the match wore on. Even after suffering tremendous punishment, Finn escaped Corbin by the narrowest of margins, reversing the End of Days into a small package that put the livid Corbin down for three. It was as much of an escape as it was a victory, though above all, it seemed to be a statement from Bálor. For all Corbin’s size and strength, the match came down to the most important muscle of all: The heart.

My Take: It’s a shame that Balor isn’t getting more to do, but at least he’s on PPV. The match was nothing special, but at least the right man won.

Match #5: SmackDown Women’s Champion Carmella def. Asuka

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

If the mark of a champion is to keep their title by any means necessary, then Carmella is one of the greatest titleholders in WWE history. The Princess of Staten Island, whose SmackDown Women’s Championship reign has been marked by the outlandish fashions she’s won and kept it, once again retained the title against Asuka despite competing under a stipulation designed to neutralize her signature ace in the hole. That would, of course, be James Ellsworth, whose role in Carmella’s previous defense against Asuka found him suspended in a shark cage to prevent him from interfering in Round Two. However, Ellsworth’s imprisonment didn’t stop him from dropping a pair of implements (a steel chain and a can of blinding spray) down from above, forcing Asuka to actively avoid disqualification for either herself or Carmella while seeking a pinfall or submission. Ellsworth’s third stunt — picking his way out of the shark cage — was the deciding moment of the match, though not quite in the way he likely predicted.

Ellsworth found himself caught by the ankle as he attempted to escape the cage, and with Carmella waylaid outside, Asuka turned her vicious attentions to the dangling interloper, working Ellsworth like a heavy bag as he dangled above the ring. That left her vulnerable to a deciding bit of chicanery by Carmella when she snuck up behind Asuka and shoved her face-first into the cage before pouncing quickly for the pin. Asuka was appropriately infuriated when she came to, decimating the ring crew that worked to free Ellsworth before annihilating the man himself to the tune of kicks, strikes and a smothering Asuka Lock. If The Empress of Tomorrow has an eye on more opportunities against Carmella, she may have decided the best way to remove Ellsworth might not be to lock him up, but to take him out.

My Take: It was nice to see Asuka get to wrestle a bit more than the past few weeks, but it’s hard to say that the WWE is experiencing a women’s revolution when you have Carmella, who seems nice, but is lacking wrestling skill right now, as champion. I hope she gets better, because she is holding back the division right now, whether she likes it or not. Pay attention to Asuka and play catch-up as best as you can.

Match #6: Shinsuke Nakamura def. Jeff Hardy to become the new United States Champion; Orton attacks Hardy

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

Jeff Hardy’s United States Title reign ended in shocking fashion at WWE Extreme Rules, as The Charismatic Enigma suffered a demoralizing, near-immediate U.S. Title loss to Shinsuke Nakamura before another foe made his presence known after the bout. The opening bell hadn’t even rung before The King of Strong Style made his move on Hardy, flooring the champion with his signature move — the low blow — behind the ref’s back. Hardy struggled to his feet and insisted on starting the match, only to suffer an instant Kinshasa that snapped his reign and landed Nakamura the first championship of his WWE tenure.

Nakamura’s celebration was cut short by the arrival of recent U.S. Champion Randy Orton, but while The Apex Predator appeared to be sizing up Nakamura, he surprised the Pittsburgh faithful by turning his attention to Hardy and administering a punishing stomp to the nether regions before making his exit. Jeff Hardy was a proud, confident champion, but life didn’t just come at him fast at WWE Extreme Rules. It came out of nowhere.

My Take: Nakamura needed a win and a title and got both. It would seem that and Orton/Hardy/Nakamura triple threat for the US Title is ready to go for Summerslam.

Match #7: Kevin Owens def. Braun Strowman in a Steel Cage Match via Escape

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

Kevin Owens got what he wanted: He got away from Braun Strowman. The former Universal Champion defeated The Monster Among Men in a Steel Cage Match via escape, though “defeated” and “escape” deserve some seriously prominent air quotes around them: Owens only got out of the cage after the titanic Money in the Bank contract holder threw him off the top of it and sent him crashing through the announce table.

In a bout that continued Strowman’s recent month-long pursuit of humiliating Owens without regard for wins or losses, The Gift of Destruction demanded Owens fight him and then shook off everything the Canadian brawler threw at him, kicking out at one after a sequence that ended with a picture-perfect Frog Splash. Having absorbed Owens’ entire arsenal, Strowman set about punishing KO in the most agonizing fashion imaginable, tossing Owens into each side of the cage and calmly thwarting his attempts to crawl out of the door.

Owens, however, had an ace in the hole, locking Mr. Monster in the Bank to the top rope with a pair of handcuffs he had smuggled into the cage before beginning his climb. Strowman answered by snapping the cuffs, scaling the cage and throwing KO off the side of it, sending him falling through the commentary table to earn the victory — such as it was; Owens was placed in a neck brace and stretchered away from the ring. It’s a strategy from Strowman that certainly left something to be desired when it came to winning a match. But as a demonstration of raw power — and perhaps, a statement to Universal Champion Brock Lesnar — it was certainly hard to argue with. In the aftermath of the shocking contest, WWE.com learned that Owens was taken to a local medical facility for evaluation.

My Take: Somewhere on the planet, Mick Foley is cringing when he hears about the end of the match. I don’t know why Vince keeps booking finishes where wrestlers take pointless bumps for shock value. Why not just book an actual cage match? You can wrestle in a cage match, you know.

Match #8: SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Bludgeon Brothers def. Team Hell No

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

When Daniel Bryan and Kane are on the same page as Team Hell No, they’re tough to beat. So, to stop the reunited fan favorites’ bid for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship, The Bludgeon Brothers split them apart. Prior to the title bout, Harper & Rowan took Kane out with a vicious backstage assault that saw the two behemoths brutalize The Big Red Machine’s ankle, leaving Daniel Bryan at the same two-on-one disadvantage that had brought his partner back to his side in the first place. Of course, winning a Tag Team Title Match singlehandedly isn’t unheard of — Kane himself has actually done it — but between The Bludgeon Brothers’ power and the lingering damage to Bryan’s ribs, it was an uphill battle that proved too steep for even the legendary underdog to summit, and Kane emerged in a walking boot to offer whatever help he could.

The Big Red Machine proved more effective than expected, evening the odds with a pair of Chokeslams before an aborted Tombstone attempt forced him to tag out. Even then, Bryan was energized by his friend’s return, and it seemed Kane’s mere presence would propel Team Hell No to victory. But the Brothers adjusted, with Rowan sneakily tagging in and shoving Bryan into Kane before finishing off The Beard with the top-rope clothesline-powerbomb combo. Foolhardy as Bryan’s efforts may have seemed, they weren’t out of character: With the world arrayed against him, he has always gone it alone. Usually, it’s enough. Tonight, it wasn’t.

My Take: This was what I thought it would be. These four guys had a good night together and saved this card from being a minor disaster.

Match #9: Bobby Lashley def. Roman Reigns

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

Roman Reigns claims that he runs Raw, and the line for the Universal Title forms behind him. Given that Universal Champion Brock Lesnar received an ultimatum from Kurt Angle to either appear on Raw, come to an agreement on when he would next defend his championship or be stripped of the title, the title picture may not be so cut and dry. But Reigns’ status as top dog might not be as ironclad as he thinks, as Bobby Lashley defeated the Grand Slam Champion in a battle of bragging rights and, depending on whom you ask, potential consideration for a title match against The Beast.

Fittingly, the match was a war of attrition between the two heavyweights, who largely avoided a technical grappler showcase in favor of dueling displays of speed and power. An early advantage from Reigns forced Lashley to fight from underneath, and while the former ECW Champion didn’t turn the tables instantly, his targeted attack on The Big Dog’s ribs took Reigns apart bit by bit, softening him up for high-risk maneuvers like an axe handle off the top rope.

Down the stretch, it became clear that the match would come down to who would land their Spear first, and it seemed Reigns had the maneuver teed up after knocking Lashley off the top rope with a thunderous Superman Punch. But Reigns took a little too long to admire his handiwork, and Lashley dropped The Big Dog like a rock as he ricocheted off the ropes, intercepting Reigns’ Spear attempt with one of his own to earn the three-count. Reigns may still be the uncrowned Universal Champion, but the line for the throne is getting crowded.

My Take: I surprised that Lashley got the win, but it was the right call to make. The crowd was won over by the excellent wrestling and didn’t walk out on Reigns, so that’s good.

Match #10: Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax (Extreme Rules Match) results

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

Nia Jax across the ring with Natalya in her corner. Ronda Rousey in the audience. No rule or restriction that prevented any of them from getting involved. And yet, Alexa Bliss still retained her Raw Women’s Title in an Extreme Rules Match. In fact, before the chaotic turn of events that ended the match, Bliss’ title bout was headed for a rout at the hands of The Irresistible Force, as Jax calmly ripped each implement Alexa attempted to use away from her and turned them against the champion. The bout turned on a savvy bit of planning by Bliss, who olé’d Nia into a steel chair propped up in the turnbuckles, which set off a brawl at ringside that drew Rousey out of the audience when Bliss and Mickie James neutralized Natalya.

Rousey, who circumvented her 30-day Raw suspension by buying a ticket to WWE Extreme Rules, unleashed the full scope of her aggression on Mickie James, though the six-time Women’s Champion recovered in time to save Bliss from Rowdy Ronda’s wrath. With Rousey and Natalya both taken out, Bliss and James turned their attention to Jax, whom they brought to her knees with steel chairs. Bliss sealed the match with a wicked DDT onto the chair and narrowly evaded the recovered Rousey, capping a title defense that seemed all but certain to end in disaster. If the look on Rousey’s face was any indication, the champion can’t dodge her forever, but if the events of WWE Extreme Rules are any indication, there are few no-win situations Alexa Bliss can’t overcome.

My Take: There was a lot of weapons spots, so there was that at least. Maybe this means that Ronda gets a shot a Bliss for Summerslam? You’d think they’d want Ronda to fight a Bayley or Mickie James or Sasha Banks, just to ensure a successful match, but who knows what Vince is thinking.

Match #11: WWE Champion AJ Styles def. Rusev

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

After the events of WWE Extreme Rules, two things are beyond dispute. The first, that Rusev is truly, indisputably worthy of his own holiday. And the second, that it’ll take a truly extraordinary effort to snap AJ Styles’ run as WWE Champion, which extended to its 251 day after Styles outlasted Team Blue’s most unlikely folk hero in the latter’s first-ever World Championship match. The Phenomenal One didn’t entirely rain on Rusev Day: The Lion of Bulgaria more than validated the groundswell of support that has followed him over the past year, turning in a performance that surely points to future success at the World Championship level. The Super Athlete made good on the alleged three-week training camp he opened to prepare for Styles, targeting the champion’s back, in the hopes of softening him up for the Accolade.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to carry him past the finish line tonight. Styles’ efforts to weaken Rusev’s leg paid dividends down the stretch; for all the damage his back had taken, Rusev was unable to plant his foot for the Accolade after a barrage of kicks and one agonizing Calf Crusher that Aiden English helped him escape. Ironically, English’s involvement cost Rusev when The Bulgarian Brute ran headfirst into an exposed turnbuckle The Picasso of Pain had set up as a trap for Styles, leaving Rusev vulnerable to a Springboard 450 and Phenomenal Forearm that sealed the deal for Styles. Judging by the “Rusev Day” chants that echoed throughout the match, Rusev has more than won the hearts of the WWE Universe. But it was AJ Styles who won the day.

My Take: This was the best match of the show, with intelligent decisions all throughout. AJ is just great at any-thing you throw at him and when you give him a hot commodity like Rusev, how can you have a bad night? These two worked hard and gave the people a great fight. This match should be on the WWE PPV Best of 2018 compilation DVD and if there’s any justice, this match will make it on there.

Match #12: Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins (30-Minute WWE Iron Man results

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

WWE Extreme Rules went as old school as it could in its main event, with Dolph Ziggler defending the Intercontinental Championship against Seth Rollins in a 30-Minute WWE Iron Man Match that was decided at a score of 5-4 after the marathon contest stretched into overtime. True to form, both Superstars delivered on their respective MOs, with Seth using his heart and skill to earn his falls, while Dolph won by any means necessary, plus a heavy dose of his enforcer Drew McIntyre. In Ziggler’s defense, he had to get creative to stay in the running: Rollins rocketed to a 2-0 lead within eight minutes, pinning The Showoff with La Magistral at 25:50 and administering the Stomp at 22:02. McIntyre, who had been lurking at ringside, struck after the second fall, mauling Rollins to the tune of a disqualification around the 21-minute mark, bringing Rollins ahead with a score of 3-0.

McIntyre was ejected due to his actions, but he Claymored Rollins on the way out, and Dolph made good on The Scottish Terminator’s contributions: The champion scored three falls within two minutes by first pinning a depleted Rollins, then administering a Superkick and Zig Zag for falls two and three to tie the score. Ziggler took his first lead at about 15:53 by pinning The Kingslayer with his feet on the ropes and reverted to a purely defensive gameplan after that, relying on holds and keep-away in an attempt to bleed the clock and keep his 4-3 advantage safe. Rollins evened the score with 3:08 left by slingshotting Ziggler into the turnbuckle and pinning him with a sunset flip, but a Stomp that would have decided the grueling bout came with too little time on the clock for Rollins to get the pin.

With the contest ruled a draw, Ziggler retained due to champion’s advantage, but Raw General Manager Kurt Angle, looking for a decisive result, hit the scene and restarted the match in sudden death. The result was truly sudden: McIntyre resurfaced immediately on the apron to distract Rollins, and Ziggler hit a quick-strike Zig Zag to pin The Kingslayer and seal the bout, 5-4. Show stolen? Check. Show closed? Check. Title retained? Check. That’s a wrap, Pittsburgh.

My Take: Bad booking marred a strong match that lost the crowd as time went on. How in the hell can you get nine finishes into a thirty minute match and yet most wrestlers can’t get one finish in twenty on free TV? I know it’s a dumb question for obvious reasons, but the idea that wrestlers can magically get for numerous falls on each other only when it’s an Ironman match is still stupid.
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Final Verdict: This was a good card that had a great WWE World Title Match, as well as a few other matches that did the trick, although they were hindered by bad booking.

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