Extreme Rules was probably the best pay-per-view of the year. The matches and storylines were great and it gave fans another show to look forward to in the weekend filled with wrestling. Till the last few moments, I had nothing to complain about as it exceeded all the expectations and made up for the last few months of stale storylines. It might be the fact that SummerSlam approaching, but this show made me care about WWE again after many months.
If this is the kind of show Paul Heyman and Eric Bishoff are going to bring in, then I am sold. Here is my assessment of the show and what I think was the best and worst things coming out of it.
Best: The Undertaker’s performance
The Undertaker is the greatest wrestler to step inside a wrestling ring. His great character work has introduced millions to the world of pro wrestling and he is continuing to be the ambassador of the sport even now at the age of 54. However, aging is the biggest rival of any sportsperson and even the Deadman is not immune to it. His in-ring work had hit a major roadblock in the last couple of the years and he was finding it hard to get even an average match out of him. His match against Goldberg at Super ShowDown was the final nail in the coffin as it clearly showed that his time inside the squared circle is up and he needs to move away to something less physical.
But, his next match painted a completely different picture as he was back to his old self. At Extreme Rules, he wrestled in a tag team match with Roman Reigns against Drew McIntyre and Shane McMahon. He was in great shape and put on a great performance which was probably his best one since WrestleMania 30. He proved that he can still go if given the right opponents. WWE is still his yard only and it will continue to be his for quite some time now.
Worst: Samoa Joe losing yet another big match
So Samoa Joe is officially Bray Wyatt of 2017, who is only capable of giving of empty threats and couldn’t back any of his promises in an actual match. Since his promotion to the main roster, he has been awarded many championship opportunities against many big opponents but the management always gets cold feet at the eleventh hour and they never pull the trigger with him. In his match against Kofi Kingston at Extreme Rules for the WWE Championship, Joe came across like a strong opponent and got major offense over the champ, but he does that in all his matches. He dominates the match for the most part but loses at the end due to a minor mistake. The loss to Kofi will hurt him as he is now another heel who is wandering in the mid-card without any storyline and it does not sit well with his character.
Kofi is looking like a great champion who is looking strong and fans are enjoying that. He has been taking over tough opponents who are looking like big threats and he deserves this strong booking after doing all the hard work and taking the long path to reach to the top, but it seems like his time with the belt has come to a natural end and someone like Samoa Joe now deserves to be at the top of the brand. But then Joe can always attack Kofi again to get another title shot, so there’s always a silver lining.
Best: Rollins Snaps in the Main Event
Let’s be real, Seth Rollins Universal Championship run was pretty stale. It had its moments like the match with AJ Styles at Money in the Bank in May and his hunt to eliminate the special guest referees chosen by Baron Corbin. But, except that, there was nothing much to take away from his run. Basically, it was a long lackluster feud with Corbin that nobody asked for. The fact that Kofi Kingston had the same role in SmackDown didn’t help either as he was a much better babyface champion, who was facing better opponents like Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe.
So, when he snapped in his match at Extreme Rules on Baron Corbin, the crowd erupted with excitement as he was finally showing some character trait other than being the good guy. His attack on Corbin gave much-needed energy to the whole match and it was great storytelling. It was great to see Rollins in rage and I hope that’s what he will do in his feud with Brock Lesnar now.
Worst: Lesnar as Universal Champion… Again
The decision to put Universal title on Brock Lesnar was not that shocking as with SummerSlam approaching, Brock had to be involved in some kind of storyline. But, the problem with this is that WWE does not seem to trust other guys with the company’s top belt. Since WrestleMania 33, Brock Lesnar has been involved with the Universal Championship in all WrestleManias and SummerSlams. Fans are getting tired of seeing Brock in that role as he has not brought anything new with him for the last three years. The ending ruined a perfect pay-per-view just like Money in the Bank 2019 and people are going to remember this year’s Extreme Rules for that ending shot of Brock laughing over Seth’s body with Universal Championship around his waist.
Let’s hope he will show up to the work more often.
Best: Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler’s squash match
Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler‘s match got mixed reviews on social media. While some enjoyed for what it is, others were of the opinion that there was nothing in it that could not have been done in the SmackDown and it took unnecessary time slot in the already 5-hour show. The match just had a build-up of just a week and not many were excited to see both of them square in the first place, that’s why I think, their match was booked to perfection.
Their match was in a dead spot because they were following the action-packed and hard-hitting US Championship match between AJ Styles and Ricochet and after that, WWE championship and Universal and Raw Women’s championship matches were left to go. At that point, the crowd was tired from watching four hours of wrestling and then they also had to power through another two big matches. So, Owens squashing Ziggler with just one move served as a bridge between the two as it woke up the whole crowd and it made them cheer the white-hot Kevin Owens who didn’t overstay his welcome.
Worst: New Day Winning the Tag Team Championship
WWE likes to give all the belts to one faction to show how strong they are. It does help the wrestlers in the faction as they come across as serious threats and some sort of leader of the brand, but it’s not always useful. Kofi is doing wonders with the WWE championship and because of that New Day has booked strongly since WrestleMania. The trio has been main eventing SmackDowns more often than not. The spotlight has been on all three members of New Day and not just Kofi. Big E and Xavier Woods are not fading to the black, but are shining brighter than some of the other top wrestlers.
So, they didn’t need the SmackDown tag team championship to start their own storyline. Heavy Machinery would have benefitted more with the belts as they are the new team in the brand and it would have given them the opportunity to make their name in WWE. It would have been a different thing if WWE would be planning to book some sort of faction vs faction feud with The Undisputed Era or The Club for all their titles, but going by their current status, it is just a fantasy booking which will probably never come true.
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