The SmarK Rant for WWE Extreme Rules 2018 – 07.15.18
I did enjoy their first three albums…
Live from Pittsburgh, PA
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Corey Graves & The Coach
RAW tag titles: Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt v. Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas
The B-Team has a new crappy nu-metal theme to go with their new push. Matt beats Dallas down and drops a leg for two, and Bray comes in to face Bo for the first time I’ve ever seen. And then Bo immediately tags out, which pisses off the crowd. Bray puts Axel down with forearms and pounds him into the mat, but misses a charge and Curtis stomps him down in the corner. Matt comes in for a wacky corner clothesline and middle rope elbow for two. Axel fights out of the Side Effect and the B-Team get the heat on Matt. Bo with the chinlock and he whips Matt into a DDT from Axel for two in a nice spot. Matt fights back with the Side Effect and it’s hot tag Bray, which finally gives us the Rotundo Showdown. Uranage and Matt tags himself in, but Bo sends him into Bray and hits a draping DDT to win the tag titles at 8:00. My, what a vivid tag team division this show has right now. Just a match. **1/4 Well, this is a clearly a B-PPV, so I guess it’s fitting they’d win the titles here.
Meanwhile, Kurt Angle informs us that Brock Lesnar is not returning at this time, and he refuses to show up and defend his title. So either he shows up on RAW tomorrow, or he gets stripped of the Universal title.
Finn Balor v. Constable Corbin
So, like, is Balor ever going to do the Demon thing again, or is that dead? And Corbin just wrestles in a suit now? I don’t feel like that’ll make him any better in the ring. Corbin pounds on Finn in the corner and hits some clotheslines there, then goes to a chinlock. Balor fights out, but Corbin cuts him off with the sliding clothesline for two. Balor tries a springboard off the apron, and Corbin cuts THAT off as well with a forearm for two. Back to the chinlock, but Balor fights back in the corner and goes up, and then immediately gets cut off yet again with a chokeslam for two. Corbin keeps hitting him with clotheslines in the corner, but Balor suddenly hits the Sling Blade before walking into the Deep Six for two. Why are they booking Balor like 1-2-3 Kid here? It’s not like Corbin is THAT much bigger than him. Corbin tries a powerbomb, but YOU CAN’T POWERBOMB KIDMAN and he comes back with the corner dropkick, but Corbin cuts him off AGAIN, so Balor gets a small package for the pin at 8:25. Wow, what a plucky little jobber that Balor guy is. **
Meanwhile, the Bludgeon Brothers attack Team Hell No backstage and smash their mallet into Kane’s knee.
Smackdown Women’s title: Carmella v. Asuka
James Ellsworth is suspended in a shark cage here, so they’ll have to figure out another screwjob finish, I guess. Asuka comes out throwing kicks, but Ellsworth immediately throws a chain into the ring and the ref stops it from being used. Because EXTREME RULES is neither the time nor place for illegal weapons, apparently. Remember, there’s NO RULES. Except when there are. Carmella finds another gimmick, but Asuka throws more kicks for two. AsukaLock, but Carmella gets the ropes. Then Ellsworth tries to pick the lock of the cage to pile more bullshit on top of the already bullshit-filled match while Asuka runs Carmella into the railing. This gives us the comedy spot of Ellsworth hanging upside down from the cage like a complete dork while Asuka beats on him, and then the match stops so tech guys can get him unhooked and back in. Asuka chases them off, but Carmella runs her into the cage and pins her to retain at 5:25. “How sad and pathetic was this defense for Carmella?” asks Saxton. I’d say plenty of both. What the fuck was this shit, exactly? -** Good thing Asuka lost her winning streak at Wrestlemania, huh? Really opened up some awesome storytelling possibilities, like where she loses every damn match and has horrible PPV matches.
US title: Jeff Hardy v. Shinsuke Nakamura
Nakamura immediately goes low before the bell, then hits the Kinshasa and wins the title at 0:10. Amazing, he can actually win something. DUD
Randy Orton returns from whatever injury he was nursing this time, stares down Nakamura, and then turns on Hardy instead and stomps him in the nuts. I guess the lesson is “don’t drink and drive.” Oh wait, that actually is a valid lesson.
Cage match: Braun Strowman v. Kevin Owens
We get a lengthy video recapping their entire feud, which is basically “Owens is a jerk who runs away from Braun a lot”. And he immediately tries to run away several times and gets hauled down and yelled at by Braun. Apparently Kevin says “Fight Owens Fight” but then won’t fight, which makes him a COWARD. Man makes a good point. Not as good a point as “Don’t drink and drive or you’ll get repeatedly kicked in the nuts and lose your title in 10 seconds”, but it’s a good point. Owens indeed decides to fight and gets a superkick and cannonball, then a frog splash for one before crawling for the door again. Braun hauls him in and tosses him around like a child. I mean, assuming you were the kind of person to throw children around in a steel cage. It’s a metaphor, OK? Finally Owens manages to hit a stunner and crawls for the exit, but Braun slams the door on his head before missing a charge. So Owens handcuffs him to the top rope, but instead of just walking out, he stops to beat on Strowman. He offers a crotch chop and climbs the cage, but of course Braun breaks the cuffs and follows him up the cage, then chokeslams him through a table to cost himself the match at 8:11. If you don’t want him to do the job, don’t book the match! The replay clearly shows the crash pad under the table, by the way. Just saying. This was all dumb and all TV match level. *1/2
And here’s a replay of the entire US title match and Orton angle in case you’re just tuning in.
Smackdown tag title: The Bludgeon Brothers v. Daniel Bryan & Kane
Kane is absent due to the injury earlier in the show, so Daniel goes it alone. He hits Rowan with kicks in the corner, but quickly gets double-teamed by the Brothers in the heel corner. He fights off Rowan with a dropkick to the floor and hits Harper with a top rope rana and gets the Yes-Lock, but Rowan saves and tosses him into the stairs. Back in, big splash gets two. Rowan with a pumphandle slam for two and Harper drops elbows for two, but Daniel dives onto Rowan and then Harper does his own dive and hits Rowan by mistake. And then finally Kane hobbles out with a cast on his leg to even things up. So he chokeslams both guys on one leg, but Harper kicks the leg, so Bryan comes back in with a missile dropkick and the Yes Kicks. But then Rowan tags in, runs Bryan into Kane, and the double powerbomb finishes at 8:10. Well that was ridiculously disappointing. **1/4
Speaking of disappointing and ridiculous, Roman Reigns runs into the B-Team backstage, and they offer him a chance to be part of the B-Team.
Roman Reigns v. Bobby Lashley
Thankfully they didn’t put this in the main event slot. We’ve had six matches already and they’ve all been under 9 minutes long, so I’m assuming they were saving all the time for this one. Cole notes that Lashley won the ECW title from Vince at 2007’s “Extreme Rules” show, and Coach goes “I remember that night, and we didn’t know if we were going to be able to walk out!” What the FUCK is he talking about? So as expected, Roman gets booed out of the building and Lashley draws silence. Lashley takes him down to win a power battle, but Roman slugs him down. Corey feels like it’s absolutely an undisputed fact that RAW is Roman’s yard. Good to know. Roman elbows him down and the crowd is already turning on the match and doing other stuff. Drive by gets two. The announcers would like to stress that despite “EXTREME RULES” branding being all over the arena, on five different points of the ring, and practically being written on their asses, this is NOT an Extreme Rules match. Because that would just be CRAZY. Roman dumps him and sends him into the railing. Crowd chants for the beach ball, for Rusev, etc. Roman runs him into the stairs and they battle over them. Back in, Lashley makes the comeback as the crowd chants “Boring”, but he misses a charge and Roman gets a clothesline. Lashley with a powerslam as CONGRATULATIONS, we finally have a match that breaks the 8:00 mark! Bobby with a cross body and he goes up with a double axehandle, drawing some polite applause, but Roman dumps him to the floor with a fireman’s carry. Roman legdrops him on the way in for two. Lashley catches the superman punch with a spinebuster and hits the VERTICAL SUPLEX OF DEATH, but it only gets two. Bobby sets up for a spear, but walks into the superman punch for two. Bobby bails and waits for Roman to charge, then suplexes him onto the announce table. Back in, Bobby goes up, but gets brought down with a superman punch, then recovers with his own spear for the pin at 14:57. Great, put the Universal title on him or whatever. Match was pretty much what we expected out of it. Good, and hard-hitting, with a crowd that actively wanted to hate it. ***1/4 Although you KNOW what Roman doing all these jobs is leading to, right…?
RAW Women’s title: Alexa Bliss v. Nia Jax
Just to clarify, this one IS Extreme Rules. Also, Nia has apparently turned babyface again sometime between the last show and here. Alexa runs away and gets the kendo stick for some shots, and Mickie throws some weapons into the ring and Alexa runs away some more. Back in the ring, Nia throws her around some more and press slams her onto a trash can, but Alexa uses the deadly trash can lid to come back. Corey: “Where do you get trash can lids without handles, anyway?” Alexa with a dropkick for two, and Nia charges and runs into a chair in the corner. Mickie tries to interfere and Nattie finally makes herself useful by saving, but now Ronda has had enough of these shenanigans and leaves her ringside seat to attack Mickie in the ring. Bliss tries to run away, so Mickie lays out Ronda with the kendo stick. Back in, Mickie nails Nia with a chair, and so does Alexa, and the DDT on the chair finishes at 7:20. As noted by Corey, Natalya is the most staggeringly useless corner person I’ve ever seen. Much like everything else tonight, this was all angles and bullshit and no wrestling. *1/2
WWE title: AJ Styles v. Rusev
AJ attacks in the corner and goes after the leg, but Rusev catches a kick and pounds him down for one. AJ comes back with chops, but Rusev hits a spinebuster for one and drops an elbow for one. AJ fires back on the leg, but Rusev backdrops him and goes to work on the back. Backdrop suplex gets two. Rusev goes to the bearhug and then puts AJ on the top rope, but AJ kicks him to the floor. He follows with a diving forearm to the floor, and back in AJ gets a corner clothesline and inverted DDT for two. Rusev powers out of the Styles Clash and blocks the calf crusher, then sends Styles to the floor and stupidly tries a dive. AJ blocks that with a forearm from the floor, but misses the springboard 450 and Rusev tries the Accolade off that. AJ rolls out of it, but Rusev kicks him from the mat to take over. AJ rolls into the calf crusher, however, and Aiden English pushes the bottom rope so that Rusev can reach it. AJ goes after English and walks into a suplex on the floor as a result, and back in for a Machka Kick that gets two. Another one misses and AJ counters with the Pele, but Rusev puts him down with a head kick for two and RUSEV CRUSH, but unfortunately the leg is too injured to sink it in. Meanwhile, Aiden exposes the turnbuckle, but Rusev charges and hits it. Springboard 450 gets two. Styles gets rid of English and hits the forearm for the pin at 15:44 to retain. Kind of a disappointment, actually, with not a lot going on until the finish, but still arguably the best match so far. ***1/4
Intercontinental title, 30 minute Iron Man match: Dolph Ziggler v. Seth Rollins
As much as I appreciate the effort to give Seth the main event slot here, this REALLY needed to go on earlier in the show because the crowd is burned out as usual. We get some feeling out to start and Seth gets a backslide for two and blocks a sunset flip for two. Dolph bails for some advice from Drew, but probably can’t understand it due to the Scottish accent. Back in, Dolph tries a neckbreaker, but Seth reverses into the buckle bomb for the first pin at 4:35. Seth goes up and Dolph bails to escape, so Seth hits him with a dive as Coach references that famous Iron Man match between Shawn Michaels and John Cena. Um, what one was that? Meanwhile, the crowd amuses themselves by counting down with the timer like it’s Royal Rumble. Back in the ring, Seth gets some chops and now apparently this timer gag is going to become a thing. Ziggler dropkicks the knee and they trade rollups before Seth curb stomps him to go up 2-0 at 7:59. Drew runs in for the DQ at 8:46, but he beats Rollins down thoroughly until the ref sends him back to the dressing room. Fans are so invested in this that they continue doing the countdown gimmick. So Seth is up 3-0 now, but Dolph pins him to make it 3-1 at 10:29. Superkick makes it 3-2 at 11:10. Seth blocks another superkick, but the Zig Zag ties it up at 3-3 at 12:10. At this point they remove the timer from the big screen and the crowd viciously turns on the match, completely ignoring everything in the ring. Seth comes back and now the crowd just makes up their own timer while Ziggler gets a pin with his feet on the ropes at 14:15 to go up 4-3. What is this, Survivor Series? Are we gonna get pins off clotheslines next? Ziggler with the armbar and then a front facelock and a sleeper as this has just ground to a halt and the crowd is LOST. Hilariously, the camera zooms during the sleeper and you can hear Rollins and Ziggler talking about the clock. Seth fights out of the sleeper while Coach makes stupid football analogies over and over. Apparently it’s like when a football team goes up by 3 touchdowns and then the other team scores 4 touchdowns! What a brilliant comparison. Seth fights back with a springboard clothesline and the blockbuster for two, and then the clock reappears and draws the biggest pop of the match. Seth goes up and gets dropkicked to the floor. Back in, Seth blocks a DDT and hits the Unnamed Knee for two. Seth goes up and gets crotched, but pulls Dolph up there with him and puts him down with headbutts. Frog splash gets two. They fight to the top again and Rollins gets the superplex into the falcon arrow for two. Another curb stomp misses and Ziggler rolls him up for two. Seth slingshots him into the corner for the pin at 26:55 to tie up 4-4, however. Come on, Coach, where’s the sports analogies? BACKS AGAINST THE WALL! GIVE IT 110%! TAKE IT ONE GAME AT A TIME AND PUT SOME PUCKS ON THE NET! Seth hooks him in the Sharpshooter and then switches to a crossface, but Ziggler bails to escape. Back in, Ziggler catches him with the fameasser, but it gets two. BOTTOM OF THE NINTH! BASES LOADED! Ziggler goes for the superkick, but Seth stomps him and time expires at 30:00 for the draw. So Ziggler retains. BUT WAIT. Kurt Angle interrupts the Ziggler celebration and makes overtime. So Ziggler runs in while Drew distracts Rollins, hits the Zig Zag, and pins him to retain at 0:12. This whole thing was a giant disappointment on many levels, especially the stupid finish that fucks over the hottest guy on the roster AGAIN after putting him in the main event slot. ***
“Giant disappointment” pretty much sums up the night, with everything cut short to fit the show into the 3:40 mandate and stupid finishes galore. But none stupider than the main event, which asked fans to invest 30:00 into watching the babyface fail, TWICE. Gotta keep Roman strong.