Powell’s WWE Extreme Rules Hit List: Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins in a 30-minute Iron Man match for the Intercontinental Championship, Roman Reigns vs. Bobby Lashley, AJ Styles vs. Rusev for the WWE Championship

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.


Readers Comments (13)

  1. “Surely the WWE creative team can’t ruin a surefire thing like Bayley?” we all thought. Then, “Well, they ruined Bayley, but Asuka is even more WWE creative-proof! What can go wrong there?” Wrong again. At least we have Carmella – we might not get to watch good women’s wrestling on Smackdown, but at least we can watch a high-cut leotard and incessant cackling.

  2. “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 wrestlers is damaging everyone involved.”

    Here’s my issue with this statement- it almost completely devalues Carmella’s abilities, which I think is completely unfair. I’m not going to sit here and try to claim she’s the AJ Styles of the women’s division based on the work she’s done; but she’s also a heel, and her job isn’t to “steal the show” with her wrestling. Dolph tried it for years, and he was flat. He abandoned it, and look where it’s gotten him. Carmella might have some truly awesome moves in her arsenal though, for all anyone knows.

    What Carmella is though is a great character, and she tells a good story. She’s interesting. I’ve enjoyed her title reign. There’s value in her skillset. And WWE is a story driven product, which is why I enjoy it.

    I watched a NJPW show once, and was honestly bored. It was just too wrestling heavy. I bring that up because that’s kinda the deal with Asuka: she can wrestle, sure, but there’s nothing about her that makes her jump out as a character. And how do you achieve that with her when she speaks a limited amount of English? I just don’t get why everyone is freaking out that they “ruined” Asuka? The streak was the boring-est thing ever, and when it ended, I think they realized they lacked a lot of places to go with her. They’re still using her, though.

    Carmella should get better than she’s given, though. Not all of us enjoy the same things.

    • Well said. I’m glad they are using Carmella the way that they are. I can understand that Mr. Powell doesn’t enjoy her as much, I’m just hopeful at some point he’ll give her a legit chance.

      I also agree, the whole streak story line was dreadful.

      • Has nothing to do with not giving her a chance. She’s a personality. She’s still very much a work in progress as a wrestler and that’s putting it nicely. I see two pest heels holding the women’s titles. It’s too similar for my taste. You guys are more than entitled to your own opinions, but the idea that I’m not giving her a chance is silly when I’ve praised her mic work several times. I just don’t think she’s the right person to hold the title because it’s having an adverse effect on other women and the division as a whole.

      • I’ll chime in and agree as well. Wrestling is always at its best when it’s character driven. Asuka is suffering due to the almost complete refusal by WWE to use a heel mouthpiece manager to get people’s character over for them when they’re not great on the mic.

  3. I think Carmella does a pretty decent job and i enjoy the character, and her in ring work isn’t nearly as bad as some would make it out to be…but inherently some need to pick on somethingto go along with the crowd. I agree though I don’t like the way they’ve used Asuka (and don’t understand why) but she’s the type of wrestler who can get her mojo back rather quickly if booked in a decent matter in good matches….so there’s nothing lost in this considering what a horrible show this was.

    The other thing thst gets me is, people complained that they weren’t doing anything with sasha/bailey, and now that they are it isn’t enough or it’s too late. I agree their current story line isn’t the greatest and who wants to see them face each other at this point just as enemies, however if wwe were to put them against each other for the right to face carmella …now that might be interesting.

    My last complaint is about the piling on of disgust for the pittsburgh crowd during the iron man match, and their countdown, because at the time it was going on, not one site was complaining about it ….however a day later it’s some form of disrespect to the in ring performers …I disagree ….if anything it’s a strong statement done in a peacefull way to the people running the show, if anything they should be applauded for letting their ticket buying voices be heard…and no it doesn’t take over the show, when the show hasn’t been very good to begin with.

    • To each his own on the opinion based material. Just wanted to point out that the last complaint isn’t true. From my report last night: “The crowd’s countdown gimmick was fun the first few times and then felt silly and disrespectful as it continued to happen.” Feel free to disagree, but it was addressed at the time it was happening.

      • Yet you applaud the crowd when they disrespect a Roman Reigns or Jinder Mahal match.

        • Truth be told, I don’t even remember what I wrote. In general, I don’t hold a grudge against fans when they are rejecting something, especially when its Vince stubbornly shoving Roman down their throats. In the case of the iron man match, the fans weren’t sending a message. They were fun at first, but the gag became old and obnoxious in a hurry.

          • I must applaud you for being gracious when readers criticize your opinions. Unlike other staff members you don’t get butt hurt and offer calm, rational counterpoints. Even though I may disagree with some of your takes I respect them and look forward to your columns every week.

  4. Just a slight edit LOL . I had carmella on the brain when talking about Sasha/Bailey …and meant to say I wouldn’t mind seeing them wrestle each other for the right to a match with Alexa Bliss or if they both went to smackdown a match with Carmella . 🙂

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