Extreme Rules (2017)
(Brand: RAW – Venue: Royal Farms Arena – Baltimore, MD – Attendance: 11,769)
Panelists: Renee Young, Sam Roberts, David Otunga.
The three break down The Miz/Dean Ambrose match later in the evening.
Nia Jax is out on the panel. She gives off the vibe that she isn’t listening to the others, rather she is chomping at the bit to spit out some prefabricated dialog that she cooked up. The panel works best when the participants have actual conversations.
Roberts and Otunga discuss Aries/Neville. They do a nice job getting over the curiosity factor of seeing cruiserweights work their submission game. Roberts says that he feels that fans “want” Aries to get the win.
The term “WWE Universe” is so cloying. It’s so plastic and stilted. It’s a hindrance to natural sounding analysis.
The Hardys are guests on the Media Lounge. Charly Caruso asks them boring questions in her polished boring manner.
Kalisto defeats Apollo Crews (w/ Titus O’Neil).
Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Booker T are out to announce the match.
These mid-match commercials only break the flow of the match.
Crews hits a standing Shooting Star Press. Kalisto kicks out at two. Crews argues with O’Neil, asking what he should do to put his opponent away. Kalisto connects with the “Salida del Sol” and gets the pinfall.
Average, inconsequential match.
Kurt Angle is out to discuss the main event. Yak. Yak. Yak.
The preshow has no spark or gristle to it. It’s incredibly droll. It “sounds” like analysis but is little more than babbling. The panel doesn’t even do a particularly good job of selling the network to potential customers.
Title Can Change Via DQ
The Miz (w/ Maryse) defeats Dean Ambrose (c) to win the Intercontinental Championship.
Ambrose gets a tremendous pop.
The story of the match is that Ambrose is actively avoiding disqualification to preserve his championship.
After nearly 20 minutes, the two exchange figure fours. The match almost ends each time. The Miz instructs Maryse to slap him, which she does. The referee sees through the ruse to cause a disqualification and ejects Maryse from the match. As she is returning to the back, Miz shoves Ambrose violently into the ref. Angered, the ref is threatening to DQ Ambrose. Miz jumps the champ from behind and catches him with the “Skull Crushing Finale.” The Miz is the IC champ for the seventh time.
This was a fun match stacked with a load of nearfalls. Miz will continue to add shine to the title. I don’t know where Ambrose fits into the future. He needs freshening.
Charly Caruso interviews Bayley.
Mixed Tag Team Match
Rich Swann & Sasha Banks defeat Noam Dar & Alicia Fox.
Outside the ring, Banks plants Dar with a double-knee off the tope rope. Inside, Swann hits the “Rick Kick” on Dar for the victory. Banks and Swann dance to celebrate.
This felt like a placeholder until Banks’ impending turn takes place.
Elias Samson performs a song mid-ring.
The audience isn’t having it.
Samson: “Now please, hold your applause until after I’m finished.”
Samson (singing): “Baltimore is bathed in filth…”
He is quite the charmer.
And the song is a skosh too long.
Cole and Booker respectively make “The Ghost of Tom Joad” and Clive Davis references. Is it possible to find someone other than Graves who is even remotely hip to behind the microphone? “Cool” is something sorely missing from the current product.
RAW Women’s Championship
Kendo Stick on a Pole Match
Alexa Bliss (c) defeats Bayley to retain the championship.
Bliss gives a little wink when she poses with the belt. It is cocky…but subtle and hot. She has turned into one of the biggest surprises of the last dozen years. Bliss innately understands the performance portion of the business.
Bayley had the chance to the Kendo stick first but she hesitated and it costs her.She gets the worst of the stick. Bliss scores with a DDT, which leads to a pinfall.
I find it uncomfortable watching two young, talented wrestlers whack away upon one another. I know that this is the Fed’s “extreme” show but I think they can do better.
A commercial runs for the “Money in the Bank” special, which in two weeks from St. Louis. The doubled up specials feels like the PPV equivalent of 3-hour RAWS. It’s too much, too often.
RAW Tag Team Championship
Steel Cage Match
Sheamus & Cesaro defeat Matt & Jeff Hardy (c) to become the RAW Tag Team Champions.
Minutes into the match…
Audience: “Bro-ther Ne-ro!”
Jeff goes over the top and is out.
Matt doles out a pair of “Side Effects” but is prevented from escaping. Sheamus and Cesaro team to give him a gigantic “Razor’s Edge.” Sheamus “Brogue Kicks” the door into Jeff Hardy’s face. Matt gets revenge for his brother by hitting Sheamus with the “Twist of Fate.” He tosses Cesaro from the top of the cage. Matt is knocked out by an uppercut while he is on top of the turnbuckle. Sheamus gives Matt the “White Noise” from the top rope.
Jeff scales the cage from the outside. He delivers the “Whisper in the Wind” from the top of the structure down on his opponents.
Audience: “This is awe-some!”
Sheamus and Cesaro climb the cage and make it to the floor before Matt can drag is prone brother through the door.
This match was exciting and action-packed. The stipulation that if a competitor re-entered the cage they then must escape again was odd and certainly not canon. I’d say the match was an overall hit. The Hardys still have it. Sheamus and Cesaro desperately needed the victory to maintain their standing in the company.
Neville (c) defeats Austin Aries to retain the Cruiserweight Championship.
Story: Aries is coming into the match with an “injured” knee, making his susceptible to submission.
Audience: “Let’s go, Aus-tin!”
Neville hits the “Red Arrow” to the back of Aries. He locks in the “Rings of Saturn” for the submission. Neville retains.
This was a stiff match that was rife with psychology. Aries DID get submission outside the ring, which did not count. It seems that a case could be made for a fourth match.
To Determine #1 Contender to the Universal Championship
Fatal 5-Way Match
I gotta say that I like Balor’s non-Demon entrance. He’s got that James Dean cool vibe.
This one has heat and intensity from the start.
Joe and Wyatt have formed a (temporary) alliance. I like the duo. They would be interesting tag champs.
Wyatt DDTs Reigns on steps. He uses a chair on Balor. Reigns blindsides him with the “Drive-By.
Reigns attempts to pin Balor. He picks him up and powerbombs him. He boots Joe in the face and gives him a lariat. The fans alternate between cheering and booing him.
Wyatt gives Reigns the uranage to the announcer’s table.
Rollins boots Joe in the face. Rollins goes for the pin attempt. He dives on Joe. He lays out Wyatt with a “Falcon Arrow.”
Wyatt hits the “Falcon Arrow” on Rollins. Joe breaks up the pin.
Joe: “What was that?!”
Wyatt and Joe brawl.
Joe hits an enziguri for two. He counters “Sister Abigail” and locks on the “Coquina Clutch.”
Balor wears out Wyatt with a chair.
Joe then traps Balor in the “Coquina Clutch” at ringside. Reigns spears them both through the barrier out of nowhere.
Rollins frog splashes Wyatt through an announce table.
Audience: “Ho-ly Shit!”
Rollins and Reigns square off. As they are nose-to-nose, Rollins unloads a salvo of punches.
Reigns wallops Rollins with a Superman punch for a two count.
Rollins hits the “Frog Splash” for two.
Audience: “This is AWE-SOME!”
The announcers note that Rollins is having issues with his right leg. He misses a “Phoenix Splash.”
Reigns rocks Balor with a “Superman punch.”
Balor retaliates with a Slingblade, double-legged dropkick, and “Coup de Grace” for two.
Joe captures Balor in the “Coquina Clutch.”
Audience: “Joe! Joe! Joe!”
What a terrific match with an unexpected finish. Joe versus Lesnar in July is going to be a serious piece of business. “Great Balls of Fire” now has my full attention.
The booking of the main event tonight was on point. People believe in Joe. They view him as tough and a legit threat to Lesnar. The announcers were smart to point out that this is one of the few remaining “Dream Matches” in the company.
Plus, Joe train(s)(ed) in BJJ. This makes him a different type of opponent than Lesnar has faced since his return to the company. The match has the potential to be one of the more memorable WWE main events in quite a long time.