I think WWE may finally be out of its damned mind, running a show called Extreme Rules in Philadelphia, the home of Extreme Championship Wrestling. It’s the city so mean, they once booed Santa Claus and pelted him with batteries! More importantly, the city redefined hardcore wrestling in the 1990s, and its fans still chant E-C-Dub whenever they get the chance.
The LAST FEW YEARS, WWE hasn’t done much to make the Extreme Rules name mean anything when it came to the match types on their Network Specials, and that doesn’t seem to be changing this year. Of the 10 main show matches announced, we have four regular singles matches; one handicapped match; one regular tag team match and a triple threat tag team match; a No Holds Barred tag team match; and a Last Man Standing Match.
And then there’s the “Last Chance Winners Take All Mixed Tag Team Extreme Rules” match. That’s a lot to take in.
Well, I missed the Intercontinental Championship match, where Shinsuke Nakamura apparently defeated Finn Bálor to become the new champion. I’m surprised that was the first match on the card.
I also missed a Cruiserweight Championship match between champion Drew Gulak and challenger Tony Nese, where Gulak retained. I’ve been digging these cruiserweight matches the last few months, so I may go back and check this out if I ever find some free time…
WWE EXTREME RULES 2019
We are live from the Wells Fargo Center in the City of Brotherly Love!
No Holds Barred Tag Team Match: Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre vs. Roman Reigns and The Undertaker – I would have put money on this being the main event. But hey, at least they’re getting it out of the way early. The Undertaker must have an early flight out of what my father calls “Filthy-delphia.” I’m still not clear on why ‘Taker needed to come out of his quasi-retirement to help Reigns with Shane and Drew. The usually great WWE video package crew can’t even make heads or tails of it. Again, WWE had the opportunity to elevate McIntyre to the level of something special, but this match was all about Shane O’Mac. With the help of Elias, Shane puts Undertaker through an announce table with an elbow drop. He hits a coast to coast top rope dropkick on Undertaker. At least Shane also eats the pin once Reigns and Undertaker make the comeback for the win. It was a fine opener, nothing special but everyone held their own. Hopefully, McIntyre can move away from being Shane’s job buddy and get more of a push.
Raw Tag Team Championship Match: The Revival (c) vs. The Usos – Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder are still on the WWE roster! I can’t remember the last time I saw them wrestle, and they’ve been the tag team champions? Sometimes you miss stuff by not watching the weekly TV shows, I guess. The Revival are such great throwbacks to classic tag team wrestling, of which I am a big fan. And the Usos are always good for a fast-paced, fun tag team match, and it’s no exception here. Both teams mesh well together, even if the Uso offense is a little superkick heavy. The Top Guys are a little bit better tonight, though, neutralizing the Usos with their double teaming and getting a pin to retain the titles.
Cesaro vs. Aleister Black – The pre-match hype package for this match was so good. I am always up for more Cesaro matches, and now that Sheamus is out of the picture, it’s nice to know that he hasn’t been completely forgotten. He’s such a great talent. I only wish he went back to the Eurotrash entrance music he had when he debuted on the roster. I figured Cesaro was put in the ring with Aleister Black to give him a showcase match that would make Black look like a million bucks, but the great thing about Cesaro is how good he looks every time he’s in the ring. While his promos aren’t bad, if he was a little better on the stick, he could’ve carried this company for years. In the end, he does help Black look great, as a series of kicks knocks Cesaro out for the three count.
SmackDown! Live Women’s Championship Handicapped Match: Bayley (c) vs. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross – Nikki Cross needs a lot of work on her mic skills, especially if she’s going to be in a dialogue-heavy angle like this one. Thankfully, Alexa more than covers the talking for her team. This is another great old school story, the manipulative heel taking advantage of the dimmer rookie to get what she wants. The problem is the payoff. You need the heel team to win, to cause a rift to elevate the rookie to the level of the mentor to kick off a new feud. That doesn’t happen here, as Bayley is the better woman and manages to hold off her challengers and get the win. I don’t mind. As I’ve said before, the company should easily be able to build the division – and even the company – around her. Another great outing for the SmackDown! Live Women’s Champion. Becky Lynch may be in the main event, but Bayley is the women’s MVP for the year so far.
Last Man Standing Match: Bobby Lashley vs. Braun Strowman – It’s my least favorite type of match, where we break the momentum of the action so the referee can try and count to 10! After spending so much time as the monster everyone in the company was scared of, Strowman looks like he’s met his match here with Lashley, who always looks great going toe-to-toe with Strowman. WWE finally figures out a way to get the international row of announcers into the action, as Strowman tosses Lashley over the tables set up deep into the crowd. Surprisingly good brawl between these two that went from the ring, to a concession stand and into the crowd, who seemed to enjoy the carnage. They even got a “THIS IS AWESOME” chant at some point. And the E-C-DUB chant kicks in after Strowman hits Lashley with a super powerslam in the crowd and off a set of steps to put him down for a 10-count. One of the more enjoyable Last Man Standing matches I’ve seen.
SmackDown! Live Tag Team Championship Triple Threat Match: Daniel Bryan and Rowan (c) vs. The New Day vs. Heavy Machinery – After the match Bryan and Rowan had with Tucker and Otis at STOMPING GROUNDS, I think they may have become one of my favorite active tag teams. They just look like they’re enjoying themselves in the ring. It’s the same reason I’ve enjoyed New Day. The difference between New Day and Heavy Machinery is that I know they can turn it over to serious when they need to, especially when Big E is taking the lead. And it happens again here, as Big E turns on his angry side as Daniel Bryan is smacking him, and it leads to New Day double teaming the former world champion as Xavier Woods gets the pin. Bryan has now lost both the WWE Championship and the tag team championships to members of the New Day, having dropped the other one to Kofi Kingston at WRESTLEMANIA.
As New Day celebrates in the back, Paul Heyman, the godfather of Extreme in Philly, walks by, steals a microphone and goes out to address his people in the crowd and crows about his role in Philadelphia. He tells the crowd Brock Lesnar will be cashing in tonight, and says it could be on either the WWE or the Universal Championship, because it’s Philadelphia. But is he “telling you the truth, or am I Paul Heyman?” I love that man.
United States Championship Match: Ricochet (c) vs. A.J. Styles – Styles has Anderson and Gallows with him, and they attack the champion before the bell even rings. That puts Styles at an advantage for a good chunk of the match, setting up the champion as the underdog. One of the things I noticed during the match was the quality of the announcing, and a return to storytelling through the announcing that’s been missing for years now. The announce team of Michael Cole, Renee Young and Corey Graves do a great job here of getting over the story of the match and enhancing the action as opposed to taking away from it with Twitter plug overkill and other needless promos.
Not that Styles and Ricochet need the announcing to enhance the match, these guys are talented and know how to work a match. While disqualifications and countouts were still in play for this match, the two guys outside the ring work together to provide enough of a distraction to make it difficult for Ricochet to overcome. Anderson gets the ref’s attention while Gallows knocks him off the top rope. Styles manages a super Styles Clash from the ropes to win the belt. Curious that they would take the title off Ricochet so quickly, but putting the belt on Styles, as he’s now leading Gallows and Anderson, does make sense.
Seven matches into the card and, while I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve seen so far, it’s starting to drag a bit. Three matches to go. Maybe a fourth if Lesnar cashes in his MONEY IN THE BANK briefcase.
Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler – Owens hears my pleas and hits a Stunner on Ziggler for a quick win. I like it. Owens grabs a mic and rants about Shane McMahon to eat up the time that could have been taken up by a match to complain about all the people not on the card while Shane kicked off the show.
WWE Championship Match: Kofi Kingston () vs. Samoa Joe – Graves puts Kofi over as a champion accepting of all challengers, much the same way that Bret Hart’s first WWF Title reign was promoted. Samoa Joe is a touch tougher than defending the title against Virgil, though. Joe dominates most of a short-ish match, but Kofi manages to eke out a win. Every member of New Day has a championship, as Brock Lesnar doesn’t come out to cash in his briefcase.
Last Chance Winners Take All Mixed Tag Team Extreme Rules Universal Championship and Raw Women’s Championship Match: Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch (c) vs. Baron Corbin and Lacy Evans – Well, I called this as the next chapter at the end of Stomping Grounds, so at the very least WWE is working logically. I can’t imagine WWE putting either title on Corbin or Evans, but WWE is definitely capable of making an odd choice. Like putting Corbin in a main event while dressed as an Applebee’s bartender.
Since this is an Extreme Rules match, why are they tagging? It’s not like the women will be fighting the men. Let Lynch and Evans brawl while Corbin and Rollins fight. At least the women both have more charisma than Corbin.
The match eventually breaks down into a free-for-all, which is better for everyone, I think. Corbin and Evans get the upper hand and look like they’re going to overpower the champions, until Corbin hits his finisher on Lynch and Rollins loses his mind, assaulting Corbin with a kendo stick and nailing him with three stomps before pinning him to retain the titles for his team.
And then Brock Lesnar’s music hits. Brock hits two German suplexes before Heyman gives the contract over to the ref.
Universal Championship Match: Seth Rollins (c) vs. Brock Lesnar – A quick F5 knocks Rollins out. I expected Lynch to hit Lesnar to draw a disqualification, but it is not to be. Brock Lesnar is once again your Universal Champion. That’s a little disappointing.
Final Thoughts: Really fun show that was paced perfectly and built to the final moments of the show. I’m not wild about Raw having a part-time champion again, but I with SummerSlam coming up on August 11, I suppose we’ll have a better idea of where this is going then.