By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Pro Wrestling Boom Live returns today at 12CT/1ET with “Survivor” Hall of Famer Jonny Fairplay and I taking your pro wrestling calls via PWAudio.net.
WWE Extreme Rules Hits
Bray Wyatt’s return: The QR code approach was next level for pro wrestling. WWE generated a lot of interest via the White Rabbit teases and then delivered a satisfying and memorable return for the Wyatt character. The visuals of the live action Firefly Funhouse characters spread throughout the building were great, and Wyatt walking through the door that was set up on the stage was a cool visual. WWE made good on the heavily teased big return moment while also leaving a lot of unanswered questions for television. I was thrilled to see the return of what seems to be the cult leader version of Wyatt’s persona rather than the overly dominant and supernatural Fiend persona.
Edge vs. Finn Balor in an I Quit match: The first half of the match featured hard work and yet the usual flat moments where the referee has to put the microphone in the face of the wrestlers at times when no one watching thinks the match is going to end. But the second half of this match was terrific and featured some great storytelling. I think most people assumed that Judgment Day would target Edge’s family to force him to quit, but it was so well done that the predictability didn’t hurt the match in any way. Edge took a great beating and still wouldn’t quit, and then he finally said the magic words to spare his wife from taking a Conchairto. Best of all, Rhea Ripley earned massive heat by following through with the Conchairto on Beth Phoenix even after Edge gave up.
“Imperium” Gunther, Ludwig Kaiser, and Giovanni Vinci vs. “The Brawling Brutes” Sheamus, Butch, and Ridge Holland in a Donnybrook Match: A great show opening brawl that would not have felt the least bit out of place in the main event slot. You have to feel good for Sheamus being as over as he’s ever been at any point during his long career. It seemed like he peaked and really needed to add new layers to his character, but the fans have developed a real appreciation for his longevity and hard hitting style. Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see if Gunther is still a ruthless taskmaster following the creative change. Gunther beat the hell out of Kaiser with some wicked chops when Kaiser lost matches on Smackdown before Paul Levesque took control, so it will be interesting to see if Vinci takes a similar beating for taking the pinfall loss or if that part of the Gunther act has been scrapped.
Matt Riddle vs. Seth Rollins in a Fight Pit match with Daniel Cormier as special referee: A good match with a bit of a flat finish. Riddle’s Broton off the top of the Fight Pit structure was crazy and one can only hope that his tailbone is still in once piece. The sequence that followed with Riddle applying a submission hold and not releasing it no matter what Rollins threw at him was well done, but the live crowd was clearly caught off guard when Rollins tapped out. The use of Cormier was very basic in that they established early on that he would call the match down the middle. It was a nice touch to have the UFC legend work as the special referee for the Fight Pit, but they didn’t do anything that would leave fans anxious to see Cormier back in a WWE ring.
Bianca Belair vs. Bayley in a ladder match for the Raw Women’s Title: A well worked ladder match. I didn’t have a strong feeling about which wrestler would win this match, which made it all the more suspenseful. Belair fighting off Dakota Kai and Iyo Sky by herself and then winning the match made Damage CTRL look weak, so I’m curious to see if they will be given some type of bounce back moment tonight on Raw. I’m also looking forward to seeing who is next in line for Belair. While Rhea Ripley feels like the strongest heel in the Raw women’s division, she’s tied up in the feud with Edge and Beth Phoenix. No one else has been booked to feel like a worthy contender.
Drew McIntyre vs. Karrion Kross in a strap match: More of an in the middle than a Hit or a Miss. The crowd’s reaction indicated that the Kross character has yet to truly connect with the fanbase. Of course, it’s early in his latest run and there’s still some bad baggage from his horribly booked run on Raw that he needs to overcome. The finish with Scarlett using pepper spray on McIntyre was fine in terms of giving McIntyre an out for losing while also putting some heat on Kross and Scarlett.
WWE Extreme Rules Misses
Liv Morgan vs. Ronda Rousey in an Extreme Rules match for the Smackdown Women’s Title: A rough match with both wrestlers struggling to make the baseball shots look authentic. Rousey’s matches should be laid out to feel as realistic as possible. So even if the bat shots had looked better, it’s impossible to suspend disbelief while so many bat shots that don’t leave a mark and are not sold for more than a few seconds. The finish with Morgan smiling as she passed out was mildly intriguing. I’ve viewed Alexa Bliss and Nikki ASH as potential cultists in a Bray Wyatt faction, and Morgan’s sudden enjoyment of pain left me wondering if she could end up in the faction. Of course, it could also be an attempt to toughen up her image if they want to move forward with her as a babyface. Either way, I’m also curious to see what’s next for Rousey now that she’s won the Smackdown Women’s Championship and there’s no need for her to have another match with Morgan.