WWE has called this year’s Extreme Rules “The Horror Show at Extreme Rules”. It was, I think, primarily intended to highlight the main event, a Wyatt Swamp Fight, but it unfortunately encapsulated much of the series. Despite a strong WWE Championship game, it was a very weak pay-per-view.
The main event saw Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman go head to head in an insane short film at the Wyatt Swamp. Wyatt won, I think, but it was too confusing and boring to really count. (And it wasn’t for the Strowman Universal Championship). The Eye for an Eye match between Rey Mysterio and Seth Rollins had some fantastic action, but he was disappointed with its stupid stipulation. Asuka against Sasha Banks was excellent – until the finish, which was lackluster in several ways.
For a full recap of the show, including the new SmackDown Tag Team Champions, scroll below.
The demon wins Wyatt Swamp Fight (I think)
It sucked. Like WrestleMania’s Boneyard and Firefly Funhouse fights, this Swamp Fight was a short film that pitted Bray Wyatt, as Bray Wyatt and not The Fiend, against Braun Strowman. The Strowman Universal Championship was not in play. Unlike the Boneyard and the Firefly Funhouse, it was not at all fun.
Do you remember Bray Wyatt’s specials? How cool they seemed at times, but most were just empty dribbles that you shouldn’t pay attention to? It was the Wyatt Swamp Fight.
It started with Strowman confronting Wyatt at the entrance to Wyatt Marsh. Bray is in his rocking chair, but laughs and disappears. Then Strowman runs to find him, beating up various swamp dudes as he tries to find Bray. He is then punched in the back with a shovel and then we see that he has been attacked by a clone of himself. Clone Strowman hits him in the head with the shovel.
The real Strowman wakes up, chained to a rocking chair. Wyatt walks in and says… stuff. “To be the monster you were, I need to destroy the monster you have become” lines like that but way too many. Bray brings out a lady with a snake. The serpent bites Strowman.
Strowman wakes up by a fire, then beats up other swamp dudes. He sees visions of who I think is Sister Abegail, but anyway, it’s the lady with the serpent. I stopped paying attention because it made no sense and it was really painful to watch, and when I came back to it, Bray and Strowman were fighting.
Strowman chokeslams Bray on a boat. The boat comes alive and rises in the lake, then comes back on its own. Bray and Strowman are still fighting. Strowman throws Bray into the swamp. He looks relieved. Bray jumps out of the swamp and shoots Strowman. The show ends with The Fiend laughing into the camera.
The Boneyard game was fun. Firefly Funhouse was fun. Money in the bank was fun. Every short film they’ve made since then hasn’t really worked. It didn’t work, it was bad. Really bad.
Drew McIntyre retains WWE Championship
If Asuka vs. Sasha Banks was dropped due to his arrival, Drew McIntyre vs. Dolph Ziggler ended up being the survivor of the night. Drew McIntyre ended up pinning Ziggler following a Claymore Kick to end a very strong fight.
It started with Ziggler revealing a surprise stipulation for the match: These are extreme rules, but for Ziggler only. If McIntyre uses a weapon, is counted or disqualified, Ziggler is the new champion. The kind of stipulation screams “McIntyre is going to win this game,” but it ended up being fun.
But really, the greatest strength of this match is that it was not inhibited by an obstructive stipulation or a silly finish. Ziggler’s character has been weakened by regular losses, but Ziggler the performer was on top of his game tonight and did an admirable job of posing as a threat to McIntyre. That said, even after Ziggler hit a Famouser, Zig Zag and then an Urange on a chair, it was hard to believe McIntyre was losing the match.
Lots of cool places everywhere including when McIntyre called the Claymore but ended up getting slammed with a chair in his leg by Ziggler. At the end of the match, Ziggler called for a Superkick but was countered with a Claymore for the pin. Life is about circularity, all of you.
Rating: 3.75 stars. Super fun match.
Asuka against Sasha Banks
Fantastic match with a mute finish. After Asuka accidentally sprayed the referee with green mist, Bayley punched Asuka in the back with one of the Tag Title belts and then – and this is where it gets too ridiculous – puts a referee’s jersey on her. – even and count the pin. She asks the timekeeper to ring the bell, and Bayley and Banks come out with all the gold.
So we don’t know if Sasha Banks is the champion or not (the advertisers then all disagreed on this), which effectively makes it an unfinished business. And bad non-finish to that.
The game itself was fantastic, with crisp, smooth action. Lots of back and forth, including a great run of counters towards the end which ended with Banks tapping Asuka on the lock while the ref was distracted by Bayley.
Rating: 3.25 stars. Such a fun game until the end.
Seth Rollins « sort » l’œil de Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio and Seth Rollins are both exceptional wrestlers. Their Eye for an Eye match had fantastic action. But that was hampered by the stipulation, which was literally that in order to win the game you had to take your opponent’s eye out. Since we know this was not going to happen, the game didn’t have the structure and the tension it should have had. It ended with Seth Rollins cramming Rey Mysterio’s face into the corner of the ringside, like he did on Raw to begin this storyline. He then broiled afterwards.
The fight had a lot of memorable points, like Mysterio coming up with innovative ways to slam Rollins into the barricade (see above) and, later, curb him stomping him (see also above). Then there were the silly bits, where one or the other was trying to use a chair or a Kendo stick to take a look. Rollins at one point took a steel point and tried to stab Mysterio.
Not only was it stupid, but it was also quite painful to watch a man try to murder another man under the auspices of a professional wrestling match. The end was castigated on Twitter – Mysterio had a lollipop-like eye under his mask to make it look like he was extracted – but, honestly, watch Rollins try to stab Mysterio with a point or pen, and finally the watching Mysterio’s eye straining down the steel steps was no fun. It was unpleasant, and not the good one “I can’t wait to see it get its comeuppance”. Just not pleasant.
Rating: 2 stars. Great action, but completely disappointed with the stipulation. These two would easily have had a 4 star or more match without it.
Apollo Crews can’t compete with MVP
Apollo Crews was supposed to defend his United States Championship against MVP but, due to an attack by Bobby Lashley on Raw, is not allowed to compete. So MVP claims to be the new United States champion, raising the belt he made and scrolled on Raw.
Bayley retains SmackDown Women’s Championship
After a long match (or at least it felt like a long match), Bayley beat Nikki Cross to retain her SmackDown Women’s Championship. Sasha Banks distracted the ref, allowing Bayley to punch Cross with brass punches, his facial finisher and get the pin.
This game was not very fun to watch. Nikki Cross is a popular performer, but her matches and her character really need fan feedback to really work. Bayley is on day 280 of being the female champion of SmackDown, and similarly, this story needs fans in the crowd who anticipate its defeat to really work. Sure, there are some NXT students in the crowd making noise, but it’s not quite the same.
Bayley and Nikki worked hard, and it was certainly not bad. But it’s not the one I would do to watch.
Classification: 2 stars. Probably would have been a lot better with a crowd.
Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro win tag team titles
The main show begins with a match between the title charts of the SmackDown Tag The New Day and Shinsuke Nakamura pacifiers. It ended dramatically, with Cesaro bombarding Kofi Kingston from the turnbuckle outward through two tables stacked on top of each other. It was sweet.
Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura undoubtedly have the feeling of two singles united in a team because the creatives had nothing else for them, but they work absolutely together. Making them win the gold is a smart decision: The New Day is a credible team no matter what, so losing them doesn’t hurt them, while being champions, Cesaro and Nakamura solidify into a threatening team.
After the match, Cesaro goes to ringside and tells Michael Cole that he and Nakamura are tired of being overlooked. “We have not neglected any more,” assures Michael Cole. We’ll see.
The game went well, punctuated by a few exhilarating moments like Big E’s terrifying spear at Cesaro through the middle ropes and a huge drop in confidence from Kingston. In the end, despite the aforementioned superb finish, I couldn’t help but think that these four talented stars could have made a better match without the stipulations of the tables.
Classification: 3 stars.
Kevin Owens pins Murphy with a stunner in a short match.