By Sam Jones
TORNADO TAG MATCH- THE USOS VS LUKE GALLOWS AND KARL ANDERSON
U.S CHAMPIONSHIP- KALISTO © VS. RUSEV
WWE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP- THE NEW DAY © VS THE VAUDEVILLAINS
INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP- THE MIZ © VS. CESARO VS. KEVIN OWENS VS. SAMI ZAYN
ASYLUM MATCH- DEAN AMBROSE VS. CHRIS JERICHO
WWE WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP- CHARLOTTLE VS. NATALYA- SUBMISSION MATCH
WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH- ROMAN REIGNS © VS AJ STYLES- EXTREME RULES MATCH
SPOLIER WARNING- PROCEED WITH CAUTION
After last month’s first show of the “New Era”, which turned to be a pretty solid show (barring the wonky booking), the main question in my mind going into this show was “is WWE actually really committing to this ‘New Era’ thing?” I can’t say this show answered my question, per se, but if they really are committed to this “New Era” spiel, then its going be in great hands with the new crop of talent WWE are now showcasing.
Barring only two matches (which I’ll get into) Extreme Rules was packed top to bottom with excellent wrestling: even matches like the U.S title match that really didn’t have much in the way of serious excitement or interest going into them ended by being very entertaining.
But while every match was great, the IC Championship fatal four way turned out to be an absolute show-stealer: everyone in this match (yes, even the Miz) put on a phenomenal match, with almost too many highlights to count. Even though this match might have been for a mid-card title, with the caliber of performances on display here, it might as well have been for a world title, and should WWE follow through on this kind of great match focused around the IC Title with more matches like it, I wouldn’t hesitate to say that the IC Title might actually start feeling like its worth something again.
The WWE World Heavyweight Championship match also proved to a highly entertaining spectacle: say what you will about Roman Reigns’ credentials as a top star, but he has been delivering great performances for a while now (in the ring at least), and this match was no exception. While there were Uso and Gallows and Anderson-related shenanigans in this match, unlike Styles and Regins’ Payback match, it didn’t feel quite as intrusive or disruptive. And hey, even Roman winning didn’t end the night on a sour note (for most fans anyway), since Seth Rollins chose this moment to make his surprise return and plant Roman to stake his claim to the World Heavyweight Title.
That being said, the show stumbled pretty badly in the middle, with two matches specifically: the Asylum Match, and the Women’s Championship match. With the Asylum Match, what should be have been a fun and carnage-filled romp was a slow, plodding affair with limp, toothless action that pretty much killed the crowd dead. Even the introduction of thumb tacks toward the end of the match wasn’t enough to save this one, despite finally firing the crowd up, because the tacks came in entirely too late to save the match. Y’know, for a while now, Dean Ambrose’s popularity has seemed unassailable no matter what crappy-booked feuds, angles, and matches get thrown his way, but if he keeps getting these kinds of snoozer matches and lame feuds like his ones with Brock and Jericho, that could change in a hurry.
And speaking of snoozers, the exact same unfortunate description has to be applied to the Women’s Championship Submission match: Charlotte and Natalya, who are usually much better than this, delivered a dull submission fest that was lacking in an kind of spark and energy. The completely baffling appearance of Dana Brooke in her best-worst Ric Flair get-up at the end to distract Natalya only hurt this match more than it helped it. Its odd that since WWE’s move to legitimize the women’s division by ditching the hopelessly archaic “Diva” epithet, most of the division’s major feuds have been riddled with nonsensical, lackluster booking, which feels more like a crutch than something meaningful and well thought out, not to mention a champion who WWE has seemingly made a mission to portray as piss-weak as possible: here’s hoping they stop with the dumb screw-job angles going forward and start working toward making Charlotte seem at least a little more deserving of the Women’s Championship.
Extreme Rules proved to be a highly entertaining show, overall. Despite the Asylum Match and Women’s Championship match induced lull around its middle, the rest of the show was loaded up with excellent wrestling and storytelling that was (for the most part) free of the frustrating and unnecessary overbooking that was happening at Payback. All in all, Extreme Rules is definitely worth a look, especially for the amazing Fatal Four Way match that would be a Match of the Year candidate had we not already been blessed with the gift of Sami Zayn and Shinsuke Nakamura.
Also, I’m really sorry for that title. Believe me, it hurt me more than it hurt you.