Extreme Rules is now in the history books and whilst it was possible the least extreme in the history of the event, the night itself had plenty of decent wrestling and storyline progression to make it one worth watching, with a couple of surprise victories, title changes as well as the usual poor WWE booking thrown in for good measure; Extreme Rules, for the most part, was another good PPV.
Extreme Rules kicked off with a stipulation that would see Dean Ambrose lose his Championship if he was disqualified, in possibly the least extreme stipulation you will find; something that plagued the night. However, whilst the stipulation was poor, the match was not. Both men put on a fantastic back and forth match which is what made the Intercontinental Championship so prestigious in the first place, which is something that The Miz has consistently done since he last won the belt on SmackDown Live.
After several teases of the disqualification with Miz goading and frustrating the champion, they finally pulled the trigger on the matches giant plot hole and had Maryse slap her husband on his command; only for the referee not to buy it and throw her out. From this point on most fans assumed Ambrose would retain, but WWE went for another swerve and had The Miz defeat the Lunatic Fringe.
The booking of the finish was very well done with Miz throwing Ambrose into the official who was about to disqualify him, only for Miz to hit the Skull Crushing Finale to pick up the victory. The decision was the right one as Miz did so much for the title on SmackDown Live and hopefully he can repeat that feat on the red brand now he is once again champion. Overall the match was very entertaining and built up at a good pace towards the finish and kick-started the entire show in right way, they've wrestled each other so many times that they have got brilliant chemistry in-ring together and the way the match ended there is sure to be another match in the near future.
A hometown win
Finally, the curse of the hometown has been broken by Rich Swann (with the help of Sasha Banks) as they picked up a victory in Baltimore despite the fact that it is Swann's place of birth. WWE loves to book the hometown hero in a poor manner, usually ending in a defeat, but that was not to happen in the only match on the show that didn't have a stipulation of some sorts as the former Cruiserweight Champion picked up the victory for his team.
It was good to see a match involving 205 Live wrestlers actually gain a crowd reaction as the fans were certainly behind Swann, sadly the match was just a routine tag team bout that was like your average Raw match, hopefully this brings an end to this feud and perhaps the win is enough to push Swann into the title picture again.
Women fall flat
The women's evolution has been nothing short of fantastic and the praise they have all gained has been well deserved, but on the flip side of that coin comes expectations from the women's matches to now be exciting and they are now judged to a higher level. Sadly, the Women's Championship match fell way short of that level last night and totally missed the mark.
In a match that was over almost as quickly as it began, the story was that yet again Bayley could not get extreme, which just continues the story of how poorly she has been booked on the main roster; which is why it was not surprising to hear her receive some boos last night. Alexa Bliss quickly made the most of Bayley's hesitation with the kendo stick and once the Five Feet of Fury had the weapon in her hand, she unleashed fury upon the Hugster that was enough to see her gain a quick victory.
Steel Cage madness
Up next was the Tag Team Championship match inside the steel cage with the stipulation that both men had to escape to win, which added a unique story to the match which some fans enjoyed and others did not. Personally, this writer thought it was a good addition to the match and made for some fun spots, particularly once Jeff Hardy had escaped, leaving Matt Hardy on his own until Jeff's return with an incredible Whispers in the Wind from the top of the cage which was the spot of the night.
The match was as physical as expected with some major bumps being taken by all four men, with a White Noise from the top rope to Matt and a brutal looking Brogue Kick through the steel cage door to stop Jeff returning being the two top ones after Jeff's cage dive. The story of Jeff returning to the cage to help his brother and all four men leaving the cage at the same time, only for Sheamus and Cesaro to beat them too it was a good ending, but the problem with the Hardys remained last night.
The crowd were firmly behind the Broken gimmick, with loud Delete and Brother Nero chants, which has been the only issue with their return, having the Broken cloud hanging over their heads with fans desperate to see the gimmick be used in WWE, it is an issue that needs to be addressed. However, take nothing away from this match, it was an excellent battle between all four men and having the title change should really help the heel team.
The King retains his crown
For the third PPV in a row, Neville and Austin Aries showed the WWE Universe how good cruiserweight wrestling can be when given time and a story as both men, once again, put on a brilliant back and forth wrestling match that was both technical and hard hitting. With this being a submission match (yes, another very extreme stipulation...) there was plenty of selling and focus on attacking certain body parts which were expertly done, and seeing Neville retain the belt shows how much confidence the company has in him.
The King of the Cruiserweights has been the best thing to happen to the roster and hopefully, now he can go and work with other talents like Cedric Alexander and Jack Gallagher to bring them up to his level which will only help the division. Sadly, the brilliant crowd was at their quietest for what was one of the standout matches of the night, which did hurt it, but it was still a high-quality match that is worth a watch for anyone who enjoys technical wrestling at its very best.
A dream match is set
All five potential opponents for Brock Lesnar would have set up a brilliant main event for Great Balls of Fire (still the worst PPV name in history) yet WWE made the perfect call and set up an absolute dream match in most people's opinions by having Samoa Joe be the man to walk out victorious against Raw's elite athletes. The victory made Joe look like a monster and a legitimate star, by defeating several top guys, it established him as a legitimate threat and the battle between him and Lesnar is one that should excite everybody.
The match itself was very good and whilst it started a little slow, it certainly picked up the pace with the last ten minutes of the match being particularly exciting with everyone throwing everything they had at the match. Each man got the chance to look strong and have their moment to be remembered with Roman Reigns and Joe being the two standout athletes.
The teaming between Joe and Bray Wyatt provided a fun dynamic whilst Seth Rollins and Finn Balor also had good showings as the match delivered on what everybody had hoped for from five wrestlers of their abilities. Whilst once again there was a lack of extreme elements with a chair being the only weapon introduced, it didn't hinder or take away from the match quality. Seeing Balor be the one to take the loss was surprising as most expected him to be protected, but overall it was a surprising finish to a decent show.
Overall it was a good PPV but it wasn't an unmissable night and certainly cast a shadow of doubt of the future of 'Extreme Rules' as a PPV concept due to the sheer lack of extreme activities. The matches were for the most part of good quality, with the final three matches and the show opener, in particular, standing out and hopefully, WWE can continue to build from this.
Star of the night- Samoa Joe
Match of the night- Fatal Fiveway
Extreme Rules- 6.5/10