After two weeks of very by the numbers storytelling, Extreme Rules gave us more of the same. Other than Lashley winning, almost every match finished how we thought it would. There were some great spots though, such as the B-Team winning, Braun/Owens. Shinsuke also won the US title in quick fashion, but not enough to intrigue me. The PPV missed out on a great chance to turn a corner, and other than the Lesnar news, we are in for a boring summer of wrestling. At least All-In is coming in September.
Lashley earns number 1 contender
The WWE actually bucked the trend and let Lashley go over Roman. It wasn’t without some hate from the crowd, but when the ref counted to three the crowd was behind the decision. Roman and Lashley had a pretty good match, filled with some good spots, but the crowd hate for Roman still overrode anything they did in the ring. Booing and breaking out every chant under the sun. It wasn’t unexpected, but it’s beginning to get tiresome. Watching a Roman match isn’t the worst, it’s just kinda like watching old Hulk matches. You know who is gonna win, and you can see spots coming, but overall you can’t say he cannot work.
Maybe this is the turning point for Roman. Letting Lashley go over him clean isn’t something Vince and company have aloud much of. Yeah, they are going to push Lashley while they have him, but they could have had him go over someone else if they wanted. There is a reason why he beat Roman, and I don’t think it’s just fatigue. I honestly think this is a point where you can start to turn Roman heel. He has no right to keep using the Big Dog moniker after multiple big losses, without seeming like a heel. Watch out for him to start falling more to one side of the line than he ever has been.
Ziggler retains in 30 minute Ironman match
Well, other than the screwy booking, the Ironman match was a good spot for both men. This seems to be WWE’s answer to the NJPW Omega matches. We all know Rollins is a great worker, but this match allowed Ziggler to show what he has. Even the announcers were doing there best to put him over, even referencing his days wrestling at Kent State.
This isn’t the first time they have pushed Dolph, but this time it feels different. They are bringing up his past and telling us how good he is in the ring. Normally they just off hand something about a showoff and then let him sink back into the crowd. This time they are giving us a legitimate feel that he is a big deal. Good work creative.
Rollins came up just seconds short of regaining his title. Countering Ziggler with his own superkick, then the stomp. But, he fell flat and failed to secure a pinfall as time ran out, ending the match in a 4-4 draw. Angle came out and made it sudden death, but Ziggler hits a superkick and ends it. Not to say Rollins didn’t have his chances. Going up 2-0 to start the match, Drew McIntyre came in and interfered, costing Ziggler another fall.
But, he absolutely destroyed Rollins, allowing Ziggler to tie it back up. Ziggler took a 4-3 lead going deep into the match, when Rollins tied it up 4-4 with less than 5 minutes left. The final 5 minutes were a scramble, Ziggler tried to just hold on, while Rollins tried everything in his power to gain another fall. Ending in a draw allows them to run it back at the next PPV.
Asuka/Mella gets screwy finish
Well, who didn’t see a dumb finish coming when the introduced the shark cage stipulation. After weeks for fighting Asuka, James Ellsworth was forced to hang out above the ring in the cage. Other than that, the match was very, very bland. Mella was trying to use Ellsworth to smuggle in weapons, but Asuka caught both of the weapons, eventually knocking Mella to the outside. That’s when the match at least gained some attraction.
Ellsworth picked the lock to the cage, but fell out, snagging his pants on the cage, hanging upside down. Asuka lit him up before the ref and crew rushed in to bring him down. But, as they did, Asuka attacked them all, turning her attention back to Ellsworth. She hit him with kick after kick, but Mella popped back into the ring and pushed Asuka into the cage, knocking her out. One pin later and Mella retained, dragging this out even longer.
AJ retains against Rusev
Man, Rusev needs a rocket strapped to him. On top of how over he is with the Rusev Day gimmick, he looked really good in this match. Selling the injured leg beautifully, especially with the attempted Accolade. You could see the desperation and pain on his face as he failed to lock it in. AJ attacked the legs over an over, making it impossible to not feel for Rusev as he tried to squat into position.
I really hope this isn’t the only time these two get to have a match, because there was a really good story being told in the ring. I could talk about AJ, but we all know he is great. But Rusev and him did a great job together. More please.
Owens wins cage match in spectacular fashion
In another great in-ring story, Owens looked really good and told a great story against Braun. Even busting out a gimmicked pair of handcuffs. Braun was the overwhelming favorite after weeks of torturing Owens, but how they ended the match was great. After Braun beatdown Owens, Owens actually got the upperhand, eventually locking a pair of handcuffs on Braun.
Laying into him a bit, Owens finally backed off and waved by to Braun, even blowing him a kiss before he climbed the cage. But, that just made Braun more angry, who then broke the handcuffs and chased Owens up the cage, catching him at the top. Braun pulled himself up, and then with a big throw, tossed Owens off the top and through a table. Owens won, but he didn’t walk away. Great booking.
B-Team wins Raw Tag Titles
The upset of the night came very early. The B-Team has been on a roll recently, but no one saw them going over Bray and Hardy. A quintessential comedy team, they actually got to go over a top team. Bray and Hardy have has a lot invested into them each, and letting Dallas and Axel go over is pretty mind-boggling.
I don’t see it lasting, as this is just a flavor of the month for Vince, but it really was shocking. Also, watch out for Hardy and Wyatt to start breaking apart in the coming months. It wasn’t ever going to be a long time thing, and I think this may signal the beginning of the end.
Lesnar’s storyline gets some movement
After Lesnar appeared at UFC 226 the world was a buzz of what was going to happen. It seems like we have some sort of answer. Kurt Angle announced that Lesnar has to come to terms with a rematch date, or be stripped of the title. Knowing that Lesnar and Heyman are such key figures in the company, I don’t see them actually stripping Lesnar of the belt, but it’s at least giving us a time frame where he should drop the belt.
It also should help build a babyface to go over the hated heel who is turning his back on the company. Lashley is the guy right now, but that seems to be more of the same issues that we are facing now. Lashley most likely won’t be there very long and would just be a transitional champion, like Goldberg was rumored to be.
Hulk reinstated to WWE Hall of Fame
In side news, Hulk Hogan has been reinstated to the WWE Hall of Fame. After getting suspended for the Gawker trial and some racist remarks, Hulk gets his spot back. Which may just piss off a whole bunch of people. I honestly don’t have an issue, but it does bring a big question to the whole Hall of Fame idea. Is it just for in ring work? If so, why is Benoit, Chyna and others missing? If it’s for everything, then why is Hogan allowed back in, and why is Sunny still in? They need to draw a line in the sand and figure out what it’s a Hall of Fame of.