By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
The ProWrestling.net Live audio show returns today at 3CT/4ET with Will Pruett and I taking your calls and discussing WWE Extreme Rules, AEW Fight For The Fallen, the NJPW G1 tournament, and Evolve’s 10th Anniversary special. Listen live at PWAudio.net or via 773-897-6321.
WWE Extreme Rules Hits
Ricochet vs. AJ Styles for the U.S. Championship: A good match with Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson being the difference makers that led to Styles winning the championship. I like the Club, but Gallows and Anderson have been damaged and come off more as lackeys than a strong tag team. Perhaps creative will work to change that perception, but I’m still hoping that Finn Balor will be added to The Club, which would give him something fresh and provide The Club a major boost. Unfortunately, it seems just as likely that Balor will end up teaming with Ricochet to battle his former allies at some point.
Undertaker and Roman Reigns vs. Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre in a No Holds Barred match: I could have done without WWE burning 18 minutes at the start of the show before the bell finally rang to start this match. But it was a good, satisfying match once they finally started wrestling. Taker had a good outing, Reigns was cheered by an unusually kind Philadelphia crowd, McIntyre was given moments to shine, and Shane finally got his comeuppance. As much as I wish this was done to write off overexposed Shane for a stretch, it’s hard to imagine that will happen given that Kevin Owens was still talking about him later in the show.
Aleister Black vs. Cesaro: A match that looked good on paper and still exceeded my expectations. Black looked impressive in victory, and Cesaro didn’t lose anything in defeat. I’m anxious to see where they go next with both wrestlers.
Daniel Bryan and Rowan vs. Big E and Xavier Woods vs. Heavy Machinery for the Smackdown Tag Titles: This was a pleasant surprise. And perhaps it should not have been given some of the wrestlers involved, but it still managed to catch me off guard in that it was better than the Raw Tag Title match and competed for best match of the night. What’s next for Daniel Bryan now that he and Rowan have dropped the tag titles? Will they move forward as a team or will Bryan move back into the singles division?
Braun Strowman vs. Bobby Lashley in a Last Man Standing match: A fun brawl between the monsters. Sure, it was silly that the referee made the count even though he couldn’t actually see either man. And, yes, Strowman busting through the thing board at the end was cheesy. Even so, the brawl was fun and I like that Lashley looked competitive with Strowman again. Lashley has been going toe to toe with Strowman since the brawl that set up their big angle on Raw, whereas most heels cower in fear and can only gain advantage through cheap shots or other forms of cheating. Still, nothing jumps out in terms of what the company should do next with either guy. I’m guess Strowman could be back in play as a challenger now that Brock Lesnar holds the Universal Championship again, but I can’t say that I’m clamoring to see that match again.
Kofi Kingston vs. Samoa Joe for the WWE Championship: A decent match that was briefer than expected, perhaps because of the back injury that has kept Kingston out of the ring or limited him during his recent matches. It’s a shame that Joe continues to be all bark and no bite whenever he’s in the world title picture. Was this a one and done or will they come up with a way to go back to it at SummerSlam? And if this is the peak for New Day now that they hold the WWE Championship and Smackdown Tag Titles, will the collapse be coming soon as Jake Barnett predicted in last night’s Dot Net Members’ exclusive audio review?
Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch vs. Baron Corbin and Lacey Evans in an Extreme Rules match for the WWE Universal Championship and the Raw Women’s Championship: A minor Hit for a main event that didn’t do much for me on paper, yet woke up the live crowd and held their interest from start to finish. It was surprising to see Corbin hit his finisher on Lynch. WWE usually stays away from male on female violence. It was jarring for that reason, but it was handled well with even Corey Graves saying Corbin went too far, and Rollins quickly stepping in and destroying Corbin in response. I really hope they find a way to get Rollins and Lynch away from one another on television. It’s great that they are a couple, but I don’t think the public acknowledgement of their relationship has done either one of them any favors as far as their on-air personas are concerned.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Finn Balor for the Intercontinental Championship: It’s nice to see Nakamura back in a meaningful position. Nakamura scored a showcase win over Balor on Tuesday’s Smackdown and my concern was that this would end up being another case of one step forward, two steps back with Balor beating him clean on the pay-per-view. Instead, they followed up the showcase match with a title win for Nakamura, who suddenly feels relevant again. Here’s hoping that Nakamura won’t become the latest in a long line of secondary champions to lose a bunch of non-title matches on television. I’m curious to see if this frees up Balor to do something with The Club as I mentioned earlier.
Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler: A quick and painless match and just what the card needed at a point when things really could have started to drag. Will Steve Austin show up and endorse KO’s apparent tribute to him next week? I’d actually hope creative can come up with a way to make this feel like something unique to Owens rather than the company’s latest homage to the Stone Cold vs. Mr. McMahon feud.
WWE Extreme Rules Misses
Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins for the WWE Universal Championship: It’s fun in the moment to see a semi-surprise appearance and a successful Money in the Bank cash-in, but now we’re back to that familiar place with Lesnar as the part-time champion. Perhaps this will be a quick and painless reign with someone beating Lesnar to take the title at SummerSlam as Jake suggested last night in our audio review, but I won’t be able to shake the repetitiveness feeling in the meantime.
The Revival vs. The Usos for the Raw Tag Titles: We’ve seen better from these teams and the live crowd just never got into the match. These are two of the most talented teams in the business, but the creative forces just can’t get what should be a can’t miss feud out of first gear.
Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross in a handicap match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: A soft Miss. This was a more straight forward match than I anticipated with Bayley simply winning clean and no storyline developments between Bliss and Cross.
Drew Gulak vs. Tony Nese for the WWE Championship: A soft Miss for a match that just wasn’t as good as what we’ve seen from some of the other recent cruiserweight title matches on WWE pay-per-views.
Show length: Five hours is still too long and it’s going to be even worse at SummerSlam. Booking so many matches for pay-per-view when creative is having a tough time filling five hours of weekly television is baffling. Why not trim the length of the show by saving some of these matches for television?
Check below for the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast With Jason Powell featuring guest Jim Ross discussing his role in AEW, Tony Khan as a leader, whether Ross knew Shawn Spears was going to hit Cody with a chair shot to the head, working with Excalibur and Alex Marvez, his new book and speaking engagement deal, and much more.