Previously on the Best and Worst of Extreme Rules: Kalisto jobbed to a mid-card heel, there was an underwhelming cage match, The Miz wrestled for 30 minutes and Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns ended up going at it in the main event. So much has changed in the last year!
If you missed Extreme Rules 2017 and somehow have no idea where to watch it, click here.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Whichever Pay-per-view This Is This Weekend 2017 for June 4, 2017.
Worst: When “Extreme Rules” Actually Means “More Rules Than Usual” And You Have No Idea What They Are And Make Up Everything As You Go Along, Shut Up
Let’s just get all of this out of the way at the beginning, so it doesn’t seem like I’m systematically nit-picking the entire show.
So, when “Extreme Rules” was first introduced, it was the ECW reunion show “One Night Only” rebranded to feature a bunch of less extreme WWE guys doing things like hitting each other with stairs and kendo sticks. At some point “extreme rules” stopped meaning “like ECW” and started meaning “matches with ridiculously confining stipulations.” This year more than any before it was the concept at its worst.
Here’s a quick example. You’ve got Dean Ambrose, your Intercontinental Champion who is supposed to be this unpredictable chainsaw-and-hot-dog-cart-wielding madman who will do ANYTHING, in a championship match against the safest guy on the roster, The Miz. And to make things extreme, Ambrose can lose the Intercontinental Championship if he gets disqualified. So as dumb and confining as that is already, you’re like, okay, sure, it gives Miz a chance to do some funny manipulative heel stuff and they can probably get something good out of it. What you actually get is a referee holding Ambrose’s hand through an entire 20-minute match because apparently he’s dumb as a brick and keeps almost getting himself disqualified. The finish is the referee being smart enough to know Miz is manipulating the match, then immediately not being smart enough to know the Miz is manipulating the match. It distracts Ambrose, who loses via not the stipulation.
Here’s another example: a mixed tag team match, which is like a regular tag team match except each member of the team can only wrestle one member of the other team. So a tag team match with more rules. Here’s another: a cage match that suddenly becomes “escape only,” meaning you can’t win by pinfall or submission. You have to escape the cage. Except Jeff Hardy escapes the cage, climbs back in and becomes legal again so that when it’s time for the match to end, he’s the one who didn’t get out. Because RULES. Rules we are telling you on the fly, or making vague reference to at the top of the match because explicitly pointing them out would ruin the finish. But we have to tell you a little.
How about a women’s hardcore match where only one weapon is legal, and you have to climb up a pole to get it? And what if that weapon doesn’t actually factor into the finish of the match, and Alexa Bliss just wins with a DDT? How about a submission match where the wrestlers get threatened with disqualifications and count-outs? You know what made the submission match at WrestleMania 13 so good? The referee threatening to count out Steve Austin the entire time.
Or what about the main event, where the only thing “extreme” about the rules is that there are five guys in the match, which is pretty common, and they can use one (1) set of ring steps and one (1) steel chair? And the chair shots are only to the stomach and the back? Because that’s every WWE show ever. There are zero shows on the calendar where a multi-person match like this can’t involve the steps and a chair. And hey, it’s no DQ, but the cult leader doesn’t have anybody to help him. And it mostly only ever has 2 or a maximum of 3 guys in the ring at once, because booking a match where all 5 guys are doing something the entire time is hard. Just take a move and lie around on the floor for a while!
That’s the entire show. I just reviewed the entire Extreme Rules show.
The best match on the card isn’t even actually on the card. It’s the Apollo Crews vs. Kalisto pre-show match they announced this afternoon. Despite it being, you know, Apollo Crews vs. Kalisto, it’s fun. It has a quick, snappy pace. The wrestlers are fighting with a sense of urgency. The finish is kinda dumb, with Titus O’Neil encoura-distracting Crews for no reason until he eats a Salida del Sol, but it works. It makes sense. It continues the story and, hopefully, will lead to some growth on Monday. Crews can either decide to be a cutthroat jerk so Titus will stop yelling at him, or he’ll punch Titus in the mouth for costing him matches he should’ve won.
How do I even review the rest of this?
Best: Dean Ambrose Isn’t Intercontinental Champion Anymore
If we’re focusing on the positives, The Miz managed to out-safe Dean Ambrose and become a 7-time Not As Good As WWE Champion. What’s funny is that I usually joke about Ambrose’s offense being safe, but the referee having to like, guide him through not getting disqualified for 20 minutes made him feel extra safe and stupid. Like he should’ve worn a helmet and bike pads.
Here’s what I wrote in the Extreme Rules predictions, on how to best lay out the match under the established stip:
Miz has manipulated Raw’s Gentle Ben general manager into giving him a match with a crazy person in which the champion can lose his belt via disqualification. The obvious thing is, of course, that Maryse starts the match by slapping Miz in the face. Ambrose loses, Miz becomes Intercontinental Champion.
But I think once you’ve done that, the smart move is to have said Gentle Ben show up and be like, “that’s not how it works, restart the match, Maryse you’re ejected.” Then the match actually gets some heat, our expectations have been cleverly addressed and moved beyond, and there’s a sense of urgency.
Instead of structuring it like that, Ambrose just kinda wrestled like an idiot for a while, and Miz finally started going nuclear with his cheating plans at like, minute 18. He almost bumps into Maryse on the apron and pulls a Ken Shamrock, yelling SLAP ME, SLAP ME NOW. Maryse slaps him, but the referee is like, “hey man, no dice,” and ejects Maryse. Imagine how much cooler that would’ve been if he’d done it right away, and part of the referee’s decision was that Miz was too confident in the stipulation and pulled the trigger too early?
But what’s worse than that is how the rest of it goes down. It’s a 20 minute match, with the referee openly trusting Ambrose for like 19 minutes of it, then thinking Ambrose would run up and shove him in the ass when he was bending out through the ropes to eject the lady who was trying to cheat him out of a title. THAT is what did it. The referee does a long walk around the ring toward the bell, too, as though the ref can’t just call for the bell wherever he is. Ambrose stays distracted for like 45 seconds and eats a finisher.
The good news, again, is that Ambrose isn’t IC Champion anymore. He probably should’ve lost that shit his first night on Raw, and probably not to a guy who has already held the title six times, but it is what it is. Miz can now (hopefully) do some great work with a character that actually feels alive and not like an anthropomorphic slouch, and maybe Ambrose can go heel or something and get his edge back. When the least-threatening member of New Day is shoot clowning on you, it’s time to reevaluate your toughness.
Best: Surprise Drifter!
Is … is Elias Samson going to beat Brock Lesnar?
I think CERN tore a hole in the fabric of reality with the Large Hadron Collider and we’re living in some fucked-up Biff Tannen-ass alternate 2017. How else do you explain Donald Trump being President, Apollo Crews and Kalisto having the best match on a WWE show, Bayley being the worst character in wrestling and THE DRIFTER being one of the most entertaining acts of the night? HE WAS BETTER THAN CESARO.
Anyway, +1 to WWE for realizing he should be doing cheap crowd heat ballads a la The Rock instead of cryptic folk songs. Say what you will about “your city sucks,” but it’s what turned Kurt Angle, John Cena and Edge and Christian into huge stars. Rick Rude just got into the Hall of Fame and his career is 95% telling wrestling crowds he’s going to nail the most beautiful woman in town and take a dump in everyone else’s fat mouths.
I don’t know. This was a match, and now hopefully we’re done with the four weeks of additional programming we needed to explain away the referee counting for three with Alicia Fox’s shoulder up. Noam Dar got beaten up by Sasha. Brother can’t pin Screwloose, of course he can’t pin Wingnut.
I’m guessing Sasha Banks will move on to be the next challenger for Alexa Bliss, as Bliss continues to duck Nia Jax. Rich Swann will move on to wrestle Schrödinger’s match on 205 live, which is both happening and not happening.
Best: Bayley Gets Rekt
Woof. Let’s hope this is the last we see of Bayley until like, WrestleMania. Send her down to NXT again and give her a redemption story — an NXT Redemption, even — about how she lost herself in the glitz and glamor of the main roster and has to go back to her roots, Oney Lorcan style. Have Izzy be all, “you’re fine but I’m into Peyton Royce and Billie Kay now” or something. Liv Morgan. Anybody.
This is probably the stupidest Bayley’s ever looked, which is saying a lot. At the beginning of the match, Alexa Bliss sarcastically tells her she’ll let her climb up and pull down the kendo stick, and Bayley BELIEVES IT. So Bliss just attacks her from behind. And after like a month of wanting to “prove that she can be hardcore,” Bayley hesitates. And then instead of telling the story that she hesitated and couldn’t sell out who she is just to win a match, Bayley throws the hesitation aside and ATTACKS ANYWAY, leading to her getting her ass beaten and DDT’d. That’s the match. Like every other time Main Roster Bayley’s been asked to make a noble decision, she half-assedly makes it, then takes it back, and it costs her.
It’s the exact opposite of Sami Zayn and Neville at R-Evolution. After 18 months of desperately trying to prove that he could be the best in the promotion on his own terms, Zayn is handed an opportunity to cheat on a silver platter. He can hit Neville with the NXT Championship, accepting everyone (including Neville) who told him he’d need a “killer instinct” to be champ as right and fading into the crowd. Or, he can throw down the title and win it on his own goddamn terms. Because that era of NXT is a special gift from Wrestling God, Zayn does the right thing, and wins the match on his own. He doesn’t sell out. He doesn’t just cheat or take cheap shots because everyone else does. He’s a good goddamn human being in a vast, vast sea of peers who aren’t.
Imagine if that match had happened and Zayn was like, “I’m not gonna do it, you guys!” and then he shrugged, held up the title and screamed HAKUNA MATATA before running at Neville full-tilt, swinging the belt, missing, getting smacked in the back of the head and rolled up for three. And then on the next episode of NXT he went to William Regal and complained about how Neville doesn’t deserve to be champion. And then Regal put him in a HOLD SAMI’S HAND match where the rules favored him, but he refused, then couldn’t win under the other rules either. You’d never want to see that skanking motherfucker again.
Peace out, Bayley. Don’t let the door hit you in the back of the head with a stick on your way out.
Worst: Sheamus And Cesaro Finally Win, But Not Really
It’s so hard for me to understand this. Okay, so, the idea is that in a normal tag team cage match you’ve either gotta win by pinfall or submission, or both members of your team have to climb out — or if you’re nerf-ass WWE, walk through a door — with both feet hitting the floor. All four feet hitting the floor, whatever. In every other tag team cage match anywhere ever, you don’t have to like, exit at exactly the same time to win.
Here, you do, apparently. Jeff Hardy manages to escape the cage first, setting us up for the very normal cage thing of a 2-on-1 fight, and it suddenly being way harder for the team with the first man out to win. That has been a trope since the cage match was invented. It’s the entire drama. Instead of that happening, the story plays out with Jeff climbing up the cage to “save” Matt and jumping back in, somehow becoming legal again. For the finish, Sheamus and Cesaro climb out like, side-by-side, and Matt Hardy has to pull an unconscious Jeff out through the door. Matt’s feet hit the floor way before Sheamus and Cesaro, so under normal cage rules, the Hardys won. Jeff got out, then Matt got out. Jeff doesn’t suddenly erase the fact that he left the cage by getting back in, because cage matches are no disqualification. Anybody could run out and jump in the cage and it’d be legal. It happens. If Primo and Epico had run out and jumped in the cage, could they have won the tag titles by turning around and jumping right back out?
And for real, if the concept is that both members of the team have to get out for it to count, why didn’t Jeff get back into the cage the SECOND he got to the floor and realized Matt wasn’t going to be able to make it out without his help? And how stupid is it that Matt got destroyed off the top rope by two guys, but Jeff jumping from about a quarter of a foot higher with an offensive move knocked him out? And the offensive move left Sheamus and Cesaro relatively unharmed?
It’s like somebody on the Internet called the finish and they were like, “welp, we can’t do anything that makes sense now, just improvise.” And this is what they came up with. After losing six straight matches to the Hardys by pinfall, Sheamus and Cesaro are the tag champs because they are slightly better at climbing and everyone’s too stupid to read the rules. Congratulations.
Best/Worst: LOL Austin Aries
Another crazy thing about Extreme Rules is how dead in the water most of these rivalries are. Alexa Bliss beat Bayley and beat Bayley up, so Bayley got a chance at redemption in a match she chose. Bayley lost again, easily. Sheamus and Cesaro lost a ton of matches, like I said, building to them winning on a technicality and not really proving anything. Here, Austin Aries has gotten two (2) Cruiserweight Championship matches at two (2) straight pay-per-views. He lost them both, but you could be like, “Neville didn’t really play fair.” So he gets a submission match, a match where Neville can’t take a shortcut and win. He’s definitely going to win the belt, right?
Of course not. Neville Red Arrows him on the back and taps him out to the Rings of Saturn. Aries has now lost three straight championship matches, and the whole build to “Neville having to cheat a little more each time” is thrown out the window for him just fairly trouncing Aries and making him submit. So … maybe somebody else gets title shots now?
What is Raw even doing? The Universal Champion hasn’t been on the show in months. Everyone’s feuding in a circle. Nothing matters. They named a pay-per-view GREAT BALLS OF FIRE for God’s sakes, and people on the show have to say it with a straight face. The rivalries they DO introduce that feel kinda fresh are either derailed by injury (Braun Strowman) or outright ignored (Goldust/Truth). No Enzo story progression? No Top Guys cameo? No mention of Kurt Angle’s text aside from some awkward pre-show banter? Just nothing at all?
I’m giving this a half Best because I didn’t think the match was bad. The crowd was pretty dead after that deflating tag match finish and never really gave it much of a chance, and they always seemed a second or two away from tossing around beach balls and yelling “boring.” Still, Neville and Aries put in some pretty good work. Sad that WWE covered it in purple tape.
Best: Hello, Joe!
The main event is a tale of two matches.
On one half, like I mentioned, you’ve got the absolutely infuriating “WWE multi-person match” style, where they’re like, “THREE PEOPLE ARE GONNA BE IN THIS MATCH” or “FIVE PEOPLE ARE GONNA BE IN THIS MATCH” or “300 PEOPLE ARE GONNA BE IN THIS MATCH” and it’s just a pile of bodies on the floor with two guys wrestling. In WWE 2K games now you can’t even wrestle a normal triple threat match. Every time anything happens, your guy loses 100% of his stamina and rolls out to the floor so the other two can wrestle. It’s insane.
On the other — specifically the second half, specifically the final few minutes — you’ve got a really exciting, high-stakes match that might not Change The Face Of The New Era®, but it certainly cuts a lot of the bullshit and gets to what works about these wrestlers. Roman Reigns is doing his eternal Cena thing where you’re worried he could win at any second, which is an extremely valuable plot point. Seth Rollins is going batshit with huge frog splashes, huge frog splashes from the top rope through tables and anything else he can think of. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a wrestler springboard as effortlessly as him. He doesn’t even bend the rope. He should probably be selling his knee, but I don’t think that’s ever happening. Samoa Joe is a beast, and we haven’t really gotten to see enough of that beyond some beatdowns. Finn Bálor is still working in fast forward and babyfacing his ass off, and I was legitimately compelled to watch him fight off two fat guy heels. And finally, Bray Wyatt did not (1) make the ring look like bugs, (2) wrestle in a haunted house or (3) cut a promo during any of this, so he was fine.
Unsurprisingly, the match got better once they started paying attention to everyone, and reminding us where they were and what they were doing. Once Wyatt’s on the table and Joe and Finn are getting speared through the ringside barricade, things really pick up. If they could just find a way to pay attention to the logical layout of a five-person match for more than a minute at the beginning and a few minutes at the end, we could get something really special. If you’re a modern WWE fan and you’re like, “that’s just the way these matches have to be,” watch the Styles/Christopher Daniels/Joe triple threat from TNA. Or any Dragon Gate multi-team match. Or some of ECW’s best stuff, like Stevie Richards and Raven vs. the Pitbulls dog collar match. There’s so much evidence in the world that wrestling doesn’t have to be one thing all the damn time, and wrestling’s never more “one thing” than when more than two people wrestle a WWE match.
In my opinion, the good outweighs the bad here, and the final few minutes are worth the 25 (Jesus) it took us to get there. And hey, now we’ve got Brock Lesnar vs. Samoa Joe at WWE Presents Long Tall Sally®. If Joe doesn’t eat his lunch, I swear to God. I know y’all want to do Strowman vs. Lesnar, so have Braun return and cost Lesnar the match or something. Get that ugly-ass Lord Zedd title belt back on the show. Just don’t let Joe get Randy Orton’d. In all definitions of one being Randied Orton.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
SAMOA JOE HAS A DINER
This absolutely has to be officially in canon.
Scott Steiner is going to set fire to the place so people will go to his Shoney’s instead.
Maryse punches her husband and gifts him the IC title. You know, the inverse Tiffany/Drew McIntyre.
I went to a WWE-themed Escape Room. We didn’t figure out any of the riddles or codes or locked doors, but we pinned the gamemaster and won.
the spotlight makes Sheamus look like the Shock Top logo
great, the orioles now owe virgil a life time of free breadsticks
Editor’s Note: That’s a definite Best, by the way.
The Real Birdman
Getting the shit kicked out of her and probably losing? Bayley definitely has been watching Dreamer matches
The Wacky Waving Arm Inflateable Men just yell “Shame!” as Bayley walks by now.
“I’m not a brand, I’m Dean Ambrose” is one of my favorite WWE quotes since Dean Ambrose is literally a trademarked brand name.
I’m watching and have the finals on the background and the taco bell “gong” was on and I thought there was gonna be a run in.
Great psychology to start the match with rivals squaring off: Seth vs Joe. Finn vs Bray. Roman vs the crowd.
That’s it for the Best and Worst of Extreme Rules 2017. Sorry, everyone. Make sure to click those social share buttons to get the word out about what we do on Facebook and Twitter (and whatever else), and drop down into our comments section to let us know what you thought about the show.
If you liked anything between the pre-show and the final sprint of the main, here’s my stock response:
Be sure to join us yesterday for Money in the Bank, and two weeks ago for WWE Great Balls of Fire.