By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Prowrestling.net Live returns today at 3CT/4ET with Jason Powell and Will Pruett taking your calls coming out of WWE Extreme Rules. Listen live at PWAudio.net.
WWE Extreme Rules Hits
Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins in a 30-minute Iron Man match for the Intercontinental Championship: One of the better matches on the show despite falling below my personal expectations. I wasn’t a fan of all the early pinfalls. We’ve seen these two have long matches with some great near falls and it felt too convenient that the early pinfalls occurred in an Iron Man match. It was a different approach than we typically see and while I applaud the idea of going for something original, the early pinfalls actually took away from the match for me. By the way, Pittsburgh, the Royal Rumble style countdown was funny the first couple of times and then it was run into the ground and disrespectful to the hard working wrestlers.
Roman Reigns vs. Bobby Lashley: A good match with the right finish. Reigns winning would have felt like more of the same while damaging Lashley in the process. Reigns can absorb the loss, and Lashley feels like a main event player after scoring the clean pinfall. I continue to believe that Lashley is most valuable as a heel, but things have taken a turn for the better for him over the last week with this match and the strong go-home angle on Raw.
AJ Styles vs. Rusev for the WWE Championship: A minor Hit for a match that was hurt by the creative failure to build up Rusev as a credible threat to win the championship. Rusev was wasted on the undercard for far so long that winning a gauntlet match to become number one contender was not enough to make fans view him as a potential champion. Yes, the fans love chanting Rusev Day, but there’s a difference between being a fan of a wrestler’s personality or gimmick and actually believing the company would put one of their top titles on that wrestler. The actual match was well worked and hopefully this isn’t the last we see of Rusev in the main event picture, but all the talk from Tom Phillips about this being a “once in a lifetime opportunity” didn’t leave me optimistic.
Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt vs. Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas for the Raw Tag Titles: A minor Hit. The problem continues to be that the lovable losers are feuding with a babyface team. The fans know who the company wanted them to cheer for throughout this program and it would have been so much more effective if the B-Team had defeated a heel team. That said, you had to feel good for longtime undercard wrestlers Axel and Dallas getting the tag titles. In fact, the duo are likable enough that Roman Reigns came off poorly when he blew off their offer to celebrate together.
Sanity vs. New Day in a Tables Match: A minor Hit for a Kickoff Show match that gave Sanity the expected win due to the tables gimmick. Let’s see if Sanity continue their odd main roster trend of losing every other television match if they end up booked on Tuesday’s Smackdown.
Andrade Almas vs. Sin Cara: A minor Hit for Almas winning a solid match. It feels like creative is trying to do too much at once by trying to establish Almas while also trying to breathe some life into Sin Cara. They work well together, but at this point it feels like the focus should be on making Almas. Here’s hoping that Vince McMahon and creative know what they have in Zelina Vega and start featuring her more prominently on television.
WWE Extreme Rules Misses
Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax in an Extreme Rules match for the Raw Women’s Championship: WWE hardcore is usually sappy and this was no exception. The match did nothing for me. On the plus side, Ronda Rousey came off well and the crowd reacted to her as the star that she is.
Carmella vs. Asuka for the Smackdown Women’s Championship with James Ellsworth in a shark cage: Asuka went from the unbeaten star of the NXT women’s division to becoming a wasted dope of a character on the main roster. The majority of the build to this match saw Asuka go after Ellsworth only to have Carmella lay her out with a cheapshot. Thus, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that they stuck with that formula in this match and once again made Asuka look bad under the guise of protecting her via the finish. The Smackdown women’s division has a lot of talent and it should be outstanding, but creative’s continued focus on the pest heel champion rather than the well rounded female wresters is damaging everyone involved.
Jeff Hardy vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the U.S. Championship: I was really looking forward to this match and it consisted of yet another nut shot from Nakamura, a Kinshasa, and a pin. Randy Orton returning after the match was well received by the live crowd and then even he decided to take his turn stomping on Hardy’s balls. I could have lived with the quickie title change under normal circumstances, but it was a questionable move creatively when they knew what was coming with the Smackdown Tag Title match.
Bludgeon Brothers vs. Daniel Bryan and Kane for the Smackdown Tag Titles: An understandable Miss. Kane was clearly injured coming into the match and he did his best to do a few things in the walking boot. I’m sympathetic given the circumstances, but it was disappointing nonetheless.
Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens in a cage match: I found no enjoyment in watching Owens take the bump from the top of the cage and through the table below. To his credit, it looked like he took the bump perfectly, but there’s just too much risk involved and it shocks me that the company signed off on it in 2018. From a storyline standpoint, do they realize that Strowman has become a huge bully while Owens is now a sympathetic figure? I’d love to see this result in a double turn, but the main roster booking typically isn’t that deep.
Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin: A minor Miss for a match that felt like it belonged on Raw more than on a dual brand pay-per-view. Did creative really think the “good big man beats a good little man” heel schtick so effective that they needed to carry it over to this feud once Big Cass was fired?
Overall show: A disappointing night. I had higher hopes than most for this show because while it lacked a definitive main event, several matches looked promising on paper. In fact, the only main show match that lived up to or exceeded my expectations was Reigns vs. Lashley.