Quick Hits – WWE Extreme Rules 2018

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It’s time for WWE to get EXTREME! Well… kind of…

Coming to us live from the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pa., it’s WWE EXTREME RULES 2018! Every match will take competitors to the limit with special stipulations and approved violence!

Hmm… looking at the card, it seems as though there aren’t all that many special EXTREME stipulations. So, it’s another night of sports entertainment on the WWE Network, not at all that much different from any other Network Special event. Whatever…

The pre-show kicked off one hour earlier than I’m used to – at 6 p.m. Eastern – with Sanity (Eric fucking Young, Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain) beating The New Day in a tables match… the tables match gets put on the pre-show. OK. Also, Andrade “Cien” Almas beat Sin Cara. That sounds like a pretty good pre-show, honestly. It’s a shame I’ll probably never bother to watch it.

WWE EXTREME RULES 2018

Raw Tag Team Title Match: Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt (c) vs. Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas – I can’t stand Matt Hardy. The “Woken” gimmick he created in TNA Impact just makes me think he has brain damage. Making Bray Wyatt, a guy with one of the best entrances in the business, his lackey just makes me sad. The B Team, on the other hand, have a lot of potential and both Axel and Dallas could be great if given the right chance. It made me pretty happy when the B Team came up with the win. Dallas and Axel squeaking by with wins over better tag teams (if they had any) should be enjoyable with these two guys. Which of course means they’ll probably lose the belts on Raw with little hype.

Raw GM Kurt Angle is interviewed in the back and says he’s annoyed with Raw Universal Champion Brock Lesnar’s refusal to fight anyone, so he’s on notice. I refuse to watch Raw to find out what happens here. Just strip Lesnar of the title and give it to Roman Reigns already.

Baron Corbin vs. Finn Bálor – “Stephanie McMahon’s hand-picked Constable of Raw” finally gives Corbin some personality. And thank God he finally cut that stringy hair to go with the buzz cut. Wrestling in the shirt, vest and slacks is an interesting choice, though. Still a shame how they’ve neutered Bálor completely, though. The guy had a one-day Universal title reign before getting injured and he’s been spinning his wheels ever since. He gets the win with a roll-up here after an OK back-and-forth. We’ll have to see if it leads to anything positive for him, though I doubt it.

SmackDown! Live Tag Team Champions Harper and Rowan are seen in the back destroying their challengers, Daniel Bryan and Kane. If that match doesn’t happen, I won’t weep at all.

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SmackDown! Live Women’s Championship Match: Carmella (c) vs. Asuka – Coming off James Ellsworth’s return at MONEY IN THE BANK they’ve run through so much of him messing with Asuka on TV that he’s already tossed in a shark cage above the ring. Right off the bat, he drops a chain to the ring, to no avail. Then he picked the lock of the cage, but got his foot caught as he tried to escape as announcer Tom Phillips called him a schmuck. So Asuka beat the shit out of him, obviously. So Carmella slams Asuka into the cage and pins her. I never thought much of Carmella, but if she can continue this Honky Tonk Man-like run with the SmackDown! Live Women’s Title, it could be fun.

U.S. Title Match: Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura – Nakamura hits Hardy with a low blow before the bell rings, then hits the champ with a Kinshasa knee to the head for the EXTREMELY quick win. At least something is extreme here. And then Randy Orton comes out and walks to the ring at an EXTREMELY slow pace. I was just thinking this card needed an Orton appearance… The former world’s champ stomps Hardy in the groin and walks off. Well, that was OUTTA NOWHERE!

Steel Cage Match: Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens – Well, at least this match has a stipulation. Kurt Angle put them in the cage so Owens couldn’t run away, so Strowman beats him from side to side of the cage, while Owens tries to escape every chance he gets. If they’re going to strip Brock of the title, just give it to Strowman and let him dominate for years. At least he’s more over than Reigns. Owens finally handcuffs Strowman to the cage… right in front of the door. He’s Canadian, so he’s not too bright. Owens tries to leave over the top, but Strowman breaks the handcuff, catches Owens and TOSSES HIM OFF THE TOP OF THE CAGE THROUGH AN ANNOUNCE TABLE. Didn’t we agree that was insane when Mick Foley did it 20 years ago? Even more insane, Owens hit the floor, so he wins the match!

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SmackDown! Live Tag Team Title Match: Rowan and Harper (c) vs. Daniel Bryan and Kane – The reunited Team Hell No is torn asunder, as Kane is still hurt from the attack earlier, so Bryan comes out alone to face his former Wyatt Family brethren. Bryan holds his own for way too long against the behemoths until Kane comes limping down in an air cast. The Big Red Machine’s arrival just completely ruined Bryan’s momentum and the Bludgeon Brothers get the win to retain the titles.

Roman Reigns vs. Bobby Lashley – I’m shocked. I figured they would put Roman in the main event again, even though this is a completely throw-away match against Captain Headband. There are no stakes here and I have little interest in either of the guys in this match, though Lashley actually lost the headband at some point, so that’s something. I guess I have to stop calling him Captain Headband. But he does manage to counter a Roman Reigns spear with a spear of his own for an EXTREMELY shocking win over Reigns. Wasn’t terrible, and with two guys I actually gave a damn about, I might have been into it.

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Raw Women’s Championship Extreme Rules Match: Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Nia Jax – Jax has Natalya in her corner. Bliss has Mickie James. And Ronda Rousey, still annoyed at Alexa costing her the title last month, is at ringside because she’s been suspended for 30 days. The kendo sticks to start have no effect on Jax. All the weapons in the world shouldn’t really make a difference here… Bliss should really end up going splat. After watching James and Bliss double team Natalya, Rousey comes out of the front row and goes after Mickie James. It ends in a mess, with Bliss getting the win. Seeing how she manages to retain is, I guess, half the fun. We’ll see if that streak continues at the Summer Slam.

This show is going too long. Looks like I’ll be coming back to it in the morning… Don’t you go anywhere, though.

And I’m back… it’s like I never left.

WWE Title Match: AJ Styles (c) vs. Rusev – Finally! Rusev gets a long-overdue shot at the WWE Title! It’s amazing that this is Rusev’s first WWE Title match on a big event, because the guy has been money for his entire tenure with the company. Everything he’s done, he’s gotten over, his interviews are fun and his matches are usually pretty good. And he had another good match here with AJ Styles. The psychology in this match – selling injuries and having them be a part of the larger story of the match – were top notch. Of course, being in there with one of the best guys in the company helps. Rusev served as the monster heel, using his size to his advantage, though Styles managed to out-think the Bulgarian Brute and his second, Aiden English. When English stripped the turnbuckle of the padding, you knew things weren’t going to go Rusev’s way – I’ve seen enough wrestling over the last 30-plus years to know how these things work. Styles keeps the title, but I hope it’s not Rusev’s last title shot. He definitely deserves a run with the company’s main belt.

I can’t believe the WWE Title is once again not the main event. At least it’s not a Roman Reigns match this time around.

Intercontinental Title 30-Minute Iron Man Match: Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. Seth Rollins – Dolph Ziggler in 2018 is main eventing a WWE Network special, and it’s guaranteed to go 30 minutes. Mind. BLOWN. If you know a match is going to go 30 minutes, you have to have a good amount of action in the match to keep the crowd invested, and Ziggler and Rollins are absolutely capable of doing that, but the pace of the match, including 6 falls in less than 13 minutes, wasn’t up to what these guys should be doing. The crowd was more into counting down the final 10 seconds of each minute than they were the action in the ring. I have no idea why WWE thought it was a good idea to put this match in the main event slot. There’s no reason Rollins and Ziggler couldn’t have gone at a faster pace to keep the crowd into it. By the time Rollins started doing suicide dives outside, it was too late. The crowd was more into counting exercises. It’s a shame, because Rollins and Ziggler put in an effort to have a good match, it just would have been better without the Iron Man stipulation. The match ends in a draw and Ziggler is announced as still Intercontinental Champion, but then Kurt Angle comes out and sends us into sudden death. Ziggler’s second, Drew McIntyre, returns after being kicked out after Rollins went up 3-0, distracts Rollins and Ziggler gets the quick roll-up for the win.

So much for sending the fans home happy…

I don’t really understand the booking of the show, especially in putting the Iron Man match on last, especially with that finish. It seems like a misstep to end the show like that, when a Styles win over Rusev probably would have made more sense. Even still, WWE EXTREME RULES 2018 was another night of perfectly acceptable wrestling. I wouldn’t have paid $50-$60 for it on pay-per-view, but as a Network Special, it was fine.

We get a five-week reprieve from big WWE events, as we’ll be back in mid-August as the Summer Slam comes back to Brooklyn!