Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas def. The Deleters of Worlds (C) – Raw Tag Team Championships
Well, there’s not much I can say about this match other than the fact that I was shocked. In hindsight, I suppose I shouldn’t have been. The B-Team’s entire gimmick has been getting fluke victories off of the miscommunication of others, and it would appear as though WWE decided to have the streak continue. I picked The Deleters of Worlds to win because I thought WWE would continue to be in their holding pattern, but I’m glad to see WWE capitalize on the momentum of The B-Team and not have them be just another flavor of the month type deal.
The match itself wasn’t anything to write home about, and it would probably make for a solid Raw outing. The teams started out evenly matched, the heels dominated for a portion before Bray Wyatt got the hot tag, and the ending was a typical heel win. A simple and safe formula and I’m okay with that. Let’s see where the Raw Tag Titles go from here. **1/4
Finn Bálor def. Constable Baron Corbin
I still don’t understand how this match managed to get a PPV slot. They were literally feuding over nothing and they had an average match that ended in a cradle. This is something that could have been easily settled on Raw without anyone paying it any attention. This was just a way to pad PPV time and nothing more. There really wasn’t much of a story to the match, either. It was just “hit move, kick out, hit next move, kick out”. It was about as basic as you can get, with the addition of Baron Corbin’s methodical style and rest holds added in there. This was a match, and that’s that. **
Carmella (C) def. Asuka – SmackDown Women’s Championship
If you want a lesson in incompetence, look no further than this. Isn’t it funny how WWE manages to book matches that are supposed to prevent interference, just to have interference take place anyway? Not only was James Ellsworth able to predictably hand Carmella weapons to help her out, but he managed to escape the cage with little difficulty. Paige could have just banned James Ellsworth from ringside, institute a ban like Kurt Angle did, but instead, she decides to put James Ellsworth in a situation where everyone else who’s been in a shark cage before him has been able to influence the outcome of the match in some manner. It’s not even the fact that Asuka lost to Carmella again that bothers me. It’s that WWE has made Asuka look like an incompetent idiot. At every turn in this feud, Asuka has managed to take her attention off of Carmella and it has cost her at every turn.
Asuka literally spent most of the match fighting the ring crew and James Ellsworth. She was just in the ring standing there not even thinking twice about finding where her opponent is, and she manages to sneak up behind her in the ring, in the freaking corner no less. And get this, folks. She loses by getting shoved into the shark cage that was supposed to be suspended above the ring. There were so many logic breaking moments in the match, but there was perhaps no better moment that broke logic than the referee throwing away weapons in a PPV called Extreme Rules. I guess the referee thought they were crossing the line.
The only thing extreme about this match, if you want to call it a match, was how bad it was. The booking was horrendous, the ring action was basically zilch, and no one looks better coming out of this. In fact, Carmella looks even more incompetent and helpless, and Asuka, who you wouldn’t know was undefeated for two and a half years at one point after watching this, looks like a complete buffoon. Beyond terrible on all accounts, and whoever was involved in booking this match needs to be shown the door. -***
Shinsuke Nakamura def. Jeff Hardy (C) – United States Championship
Shinsuke Nakamura winning the U.S. Title was an easy decision, though I must say I was surprised that it was a squash. Jeff Hardy has been fighting through some injuries, and I definitely think it would be wise for him to take things easy and take some time off to heal up because he’s visibly hurt and a step slow in the ring these days. Randy Orton returning and giving him a random stomp to the abdomen, which I can only assume means a heel turn, is okay, but it’s Randy Orton. Heel or face, he grows on you after a couple of weeks or so. This was a squash and not a match, so this match doesn’t get a rating. But that said, how did the referee manage to miss that low blow? Did he think Jeff Hardy all of a sudden needed to pee? And am I the only one that got flashbacks to Jeff Hardy’s “match” with Sting 7 years ago?
Kevin Owens def. Braun Strowman – Steel Cage Match
The feud was grossly one-sided, and I had Braun Strowman as the victor, and while Kevin Owens will get the win in the victory books, his music wasn’t the one playing in the end. Overall, you could tell the match was just building towards one huge spot as soon as both of them got to the top of the cage. Before that, I thought it was a solid match with basic psychology. Kevin Owens wanted to escape and Braun Strowman wouldn’t let him, so instead Kevin Owens used his speed and Braun Strowman’s own momentum against him. He also proved brains can overpower Braun Strowman with the handcuffs, even though we all predictably knew he’d just power his way out of it. I’m not sure I like the visual of Braun Strowman standing tall over Kevin Owens once again, but a win is a win, I guess. Overall, the steel cage match itself wasn’t anything to write home about, but the crowd was left satisfied with the big spot. I guess I’ll take what I can get, but Kevin Owens is still left with the shorter end of the stick in a feud that has seen him be dominated at every turn. Innocent fun, I suppose. **3/4
The Bludgeon Brothers (C) def. Kane and Daniel Bryan – SmackDown Tag Team Championship
Kind of a hard match to grade considering that this was half a handicap match and half a tag team match with someone working a leg injury the entire time. I knew The Bludgeon Brothers would retain, but I loved how WWE went about it. Instead of having The Bludgeon Brothers defeat the reunited tag team straight up in their first match back, they attacked Team Hell No beforehand, gaining an advantage, which protects Team Hell No while still making The Bludgeon Brothers look strong with the win. The match as a whole was pretty much SmackDown LIVE quality. I thought Daniel Bryan did a good job of trying to dictate the pace during his portion of the match, and Kane was solid in selling his injury.
It was okay all around, and I’m thinking this feud will continue. Despite that, what we got was okay, but merely phase 1 of this feud. I’m sure there’s going to be a rematch. **1/2
Bobby Lashley def. Roman Reigns
I’m not sure what WWE wants out of Roman Reigns. They want him to be the guy and the face of the company, yet they continuously have him lose all the big matches. He lost the Royal Rumble, he lost clean at WrestleMania, he couldn’t get a definitive win at the Greatest Royal Rumble and now he lost to another contender to Brock Lesnar, Bobby Lashley. Roman Reigns can’t continue to say that this is his yard and that he’s the uncrowned Universal Champion when he’s always coming up short. You just can’t do it. I can only hope this leads to a heel turn to him because he can’t keep losing all of these high profile matches and expect us to buy what he says week after week on Raw. That being said, I was sated with the match that we got between the two.
For the first time all night, what I believed we got was a sense of urgency from both men. I liked the early storytelling they told with Bobby Lashley dominating Roman Reigns with his wrestling ability, and Roman Reigns had to try to overcome that with his stock moves and raw power, and it worked for a time before Bobby Lashley came back and gave Roman Reigns a taste of his own medicine by finishing him off with his own finisher. There were some solid near-falls, there were highly impactful moves, and while the crowd attempted to sabotage the match simply because they didn’t like Roman Reigns, the two just kept at it, and what we got was a hard-worked, physical outing like I wanted it to be. The finish was also clean and definitive, which prevents complicating things as well. Good stuff all around if you ask me. We finally got something of superior quality on the show, and it only took us over two hours to get there. Easily the best Bobby Lashley has looked since his return. ***3/4
Alexa Bliss (C) def. Nia Jax – Raw Women’s Championship (Extreme Rules Match)
All this match did was show why Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax have absolutely no chemistry together. They just don’t know how to maintain the flow of a match, and Ronda Rousey was shown to be the most important piece of this puzzle. First of all, what I fail to understand is why Mickie James and Alexa Bliss didn’t plot to neutralize Natalya from the very beginning so they could just double team Nia Jax the entire match. Mickie James was planning to interfere anyway, so you might as well devise a plan by which you could use the numbers game and the no disqualification stipulation to your advantage. Instead, both Natalya and Mickie James just stood there waiting on the side of the ring.
Just because the match had weapons involved doesn’t necessarily mean that the match was extreme. I mean, if you were to remove all of the weapons, it’s every Nia Jax/Alexa Bliss match you’ve ever seen. You could literally repeat all of the sequences in the match without having weapons involved. The match was just a way to advertise Alexa Bliss vs. Ronda Rousey because Nia Jax couldn’t have looked more irrelevant here. Gracefully, it was shorter than their Backlash match, but it didn’t regain any of the quality. *1/4
AJ Styles (C) def. Rusev – WWE Championship
You have to wonder what AJ Styles has to do to main event a PPV. You’d think that with Roman Reigns not main eventing, AJ Styles would have the clear green light to main event a PPV along with Rusev, who is immensely over. Instead, it would appear as though not only is Raw’s World Title and Roman Reigns more important than AJ Styles, but their mid-card title is more important as well. This, of course, isn’t AJ Styles’ fault, because he is one of the best in-ring performers in the world. The writers simply have not taken much stock into making SmackDown LIVE seem important. AJ Styles hasn’t even been able to main event SmackDown LIVE on a consistent basis, but it’s a shame that these days we can easily predict whether or not AJ Styles will main event a show, whether or not he has the WWE Title.
That being said, this match between AJ Styles and Rusev was another rock-solid outing. I liked the clash of psychologies as AJ Styles had to overcome Rusev working his back and interference from Aiden English, and Rusev had to overcome the attacks on the leg by AJ Styles. Rusev’s selling of the leg was also great throughout, as it showed he wasn’t able to quickly capitalize on the Machka Kick and he couldn’t get all of the Accolade in on AJ Styles to make him tap. In the meantime, AJ Styles wasn’t able to hit some of his signature moves because Rusev was able to keep him grounded. The near-falls towards the end were also great as well, as the anticipation began to bubble up with each pin attempt. I really thought this could be the time to experiment with a Rusev run with the title because he’s earned it. But, I do believe that they’re going for a AJ Styles/Samoa Joe summer feud, which is fine as well.
This was a hard-worked match that continued the pacing from the Roman Reigns/Bobby Lashley match, and they got the crowd especially into it by the end. ***3/4
Dolph Ziggler (C) def. Seth Rollins – Intercontinental Championship (30 Minute Iron Man Match)
Never thought I’d see the day where Roman Reigns and 2018 Bobby Lashley would have a better match than Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler in an Iron Man match for a workhorse title, but here we are. This match left the same bitter taste in my mouth as AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura at WrestleMania. The match wasn’t bad. See the issue with that? I shouldn’t be left saying a match between Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler wasn’t bad. I should be left saying that it was an incredible outing between two of WWE’s best in-ring performers. Let’s dissect why I thought this match wasn’t nearly as good as it should have been.
WWE is infatuated with the “heel surrenders a DQ fall to get subsequent falls” trope in Iron Man matches. But I thought the match had way too many of the falls happen in the first third of the match. Seth Rollins got a definitive two falls, and then a third one on top of that after Drew McIntyre attacked Seth Rollins. Then, Dolph Ziggler got 3 consecutive falls right after that. That’s six falls done within 10 minutes or so. I really thought the balance and spacing in the match was poor, and rather, they should have dispersed all of the falls evenly throughout the thirty minutes. And, Drew McIntyre kept attacking Seth Rollins after he got the third fall from the DQ, so technically, that could have constituted another DQ fall, but that’s neither here nor there.
Now, I did like the story of Dolph Ziggler getting the advantage early, allowing Seth Rollins to play the role of an underdog throughout the rest of the match, but there was a better way to do it than just by compounding fall after fall in quick succession. Personally, I would have had Dolph Ziggler get a dirty fall early. Then, as soon as Seth Rollins is about to get a fall, have Drew McIntyre attack Seth Rollins and then have Dolph Ziggler get another one to make it 2-1. Then, make the middle portion of the match be about Seth Rollins trying to tie things up, and wait until around maybe 5 or so minutes left to tie it up. Then, just have Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins battle it out all tied up at 2 until the end.
Another thing that ruined the enjoyment of the match for some people was the crowd constantly chanting down from 10 whenever the clock showed it. That was probably an error in judgment on WWE’s part because once they took the clock off the screen, the crowd only got more riled up and would not be silenced.
I guess the biggest problem I had with this match was that it was completely unoriginal. Seth Rollins initially lost the title out of dirty tactics by Dolph Ziggler. Then, Drew McIntyre foils Seth Rollins’ attempt to regain the title the next week. Then, Drew McIntyre defeats Seth Rollins ensuring that he can still interfere at Extreme Rules. And what happens at Extreme Rules? Instead of Seth Rollins finding a way to overcome the odds or Dolph Ziggler just being straight up better, they just have Drew McIntyre interfere again anyway, and just like that the match ends. It just feels really cheap, because they literally did the exact same thing on Raw a couple of weeks ago, just without the pinfall. If you want perspective, Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler’s match on Raw for the Intercontinental Title was 27 minutes long, and I’d say the pacing and structure of that match were far better than this one, and I’d actually recommend you go watch that one rather than this match, because the Extreme Rules version had too much fluff and outside antics that ruined the enjoyment. Add in the fact that the referee sent Drew McIntyre to the back once again like last time, just for Drew McIntyre to come back anyway and interfere, because his job wasn’t in jeopardy or anything.
The only portion I was invested in was the final minute or so when the urgency really started to seep in, but everything else felt like a formality, and I didn’t see that same Seth Rollins I have been in love with this year. Not sure where Seth Rollins goes after this, but hopefully we get can get past this bummer. I was also waiting to see if someone would come down on Seth Rollins’ behalf to offset Drew McIntyre’s interference because I didn’t think they’d do the same thing they had been doing all along in this feud again, and it never came.
Again, I don’t want it to make it sound like I hated the match, because I didn’t. It was quite good, and it was well-worked. It’s just not what I was expecting, and it’s frustrating how all involved managed to screw this up. You got a better version of this match for basically the same amount of time for free three weeks ago. You’re better off with that than this. ***
In my humble opinion, this PPV would be so much better if some of the fat was trimmed. There were just a lot of things on this show that were only meant to add time and nothing more, and by the time I reached the end, I was nearly burnt out. Roman Reigns/Bobby Lashley, AJ Styles/Rusev and the final 2 or so minutes of Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler were rock solid, but is it worth going through 10 matches and 3 hours to get there? I’m not so sure. Maybe if the PPV started at 8, it wouldn’t have seemed like the PPV was just dragging along. WWE’s roster is far too talented for all of these average overall showings, and this was what this show was. Average. It was Average Rules. Not Extreme Rules. I’d say it’s a better show than Backlash, but not better than Money in the Bank. I wouldn’t recommend watching it start to finish. I’d honestly just start from Roman Reigns/Bobby Lashley and have fun there. Despite the title changes that took place before, the show just lacks a lot of redeeming qualities for a full recommendation. Thumbs in the middle.