By DAVE AND GAVIN HILLHOUSE – Slam Wrestling
From the WWE’s Performance Centre in Orlando, FL, and partly from a swamp, this year’s Extreme Rules features a hard-working effort by two championship-calibre tag teams, an opportunity for Bayley & Sasha Banks to achieve an Undisputed Era-esque level of title control, but mostly attempts to go “extreme” that unfortunately tended towards the absurd. The horror, the horror…
For this review, Dave & Gavin Hillhouse bring their tag team effort back to the fold.
Pre-Show Match: Kevin Owens VS. Buddy Murphy
Dave: Booker T throws down a “Canucky Ducky” line of the night right away as Murphy gets into a back-and-forth pummel fest: “You don’t get into a hockey-fight with a Canadian”. Murphy tries a jumping attack off the second-rope, but clearly jumped without a plan and landed right in a DDT.
Gavin: Murphy’s gear is looking kinda lame, but his strikes are making up for it. His knees and forearms are still crazy. Owens seems to only be able to go for the Stunner. Owens catches Murphy with a DDT, and then hits a clothesline that Murphy sells like death. Owens is much less vicious than he used to be, but whether he’s not fired up for a no-crowd pre-show match or he’s simply less aggressive these days I couldn’t tell you.
Dave: Murphy is missing all over the place, missing a corner splash and suffering a cannonball. Murphy blocks a superplex, knocks him down and lands a diving meteora for a 2-count. Behind all of this, much of the commentary is spent looking ahead to the Eye for an Eye match, which is usually the bane of being on the pre-show. The planted crowd have a groovy plexiglass-pounding rhythm going, and I finally realized that it’s the theme from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. They should have been doing that at WrestleMania. Owens takes a turn at stymieing a superplex, knocks Murphy down and splats him with a moonsault. I’ll be honest: these guys are putting on more than a pre-show level match.
Gavin: Murphy goes for another meteora, but gets caught with a superkick and then the Stunner for the 3 count.
Dave: The combination of HBK and Stone Cold is just too much for Murphy.
Winner via pinfall: Kevin Owens
Match Rating: Dave: 3/5, Gavin: 3/5
Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura (challengers) VS. The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Big E Langston – champions) for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship
Dave: Tornado tag rules apply, so everybody’s in on the action at all times. The challengers are in trouble first on the floor as Langston Irish whips Kingston into each one, flattening Nakamura and Cesaro into the plexiglass and ringsteps, respectively.
Gavin: Nakamura gets back in, swinging the momentum towards his team. He and Cesaro set Kofi up for a superplex, but Big E stops them. Langston then spears Cesaro to the outside, missing a table by inches. New Day maneuver Cesaro onto a table, but when Kofi goes to splash him on the outside for the win, Nakamura and Cesaro just whack him with the table.
Dave: You could say that they flattened him like a pancake.
Gavin: Cesaro and Nakamura squish Big E between two knees (theirs), and attempt to superplex him into the table, but Big E reverses with a suplex on Cesaro. Nakamura takes out Big E with a knee and then brings out another table.
Dave: The paid crowd now starts playing “New Day Rocks” on the plastic boards, which inspires a leaping trust fall from Kingston onto Nakamura on the floor. For some reason, New Day walk past a table to get a table from under the ring … aah, it’s because they want a double-decker table set-up on the floor. We’ll surely get back to that later. After Langston suffers the Cesaro Swing / Kinshasa-Lite combo, Kingston brings the fight to Cesaro with mucho energy, peckering him with punches and perching him on the top buckle near the dual-table set up.
Gavin: Kofi tries setting him up for a hurricanrana through the table, but Cesaro catches him and powerbombs him through the table for the win.
Winners via pinfall and NEW SmackDown Tag Team Champions: Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura
Match Rating: Dave: 3/5, Gavin: 3.5/5
Nikki Cross (challenger, w/ Alexa Bliss) VS. Bayley (champion, w/ Sasha Banks) for the SmackDown Women’s Championship
Gavin: Bayley starts out using the power advantage that I didn’t think she had. Nikki rocks the champ with a solid slap, and then beats Bayley down. She unexpectedly hits her spinning neckbreaker finisher, getting a 2-count. She gets two more 2-counts from crossbodies, and hits one on the outside.
Dave: I’ll keep making this point whenever I can: I really wish Bayley had been a lifetime babyface. Bayley slows down the challenger with a plexiglass faceplant (boy, they are already getting their money’s worth on those boards tonight), and starts a slow sequence of measured attacks meant to wear Cross down. Not long after, Bayley lands a perfectly clean Bayley-to-Belly with an immediate cover but, as is the new normal for most finishers in the modern WWE, it doesn’t garner more than a 2-count.
Gavin: Bayley tries for a sliding dropkick through the turnbuckles, but gets caught and slammed against the post.
Dave: Yep, Bayley’s baseball-style slide attempt is stopped as cold as the return of Major League Baseball to Toronto this summer. The Pirates of the Caribbean theme returns from the crowd, too. At this point, I realize that both Bliss and Banks are being very respectful supporters without getting involved.
Gavin: Cross hits a reverse DDT. Nikki gets fired up, dropping the champ with some clotheslines and a bulldog. She goes for a crossbody but misses, but then delivers a ripcord neckbreaker for a 2-count. She goes up for yet another crossbody but Bayley stops her with a knee, getting a 2-count from it. Bayley tries to spear Cross in the corner, but gets a faceful of turnbuckle instead.
Dave: Ah, here comes Sasha Banks onto the apron, handing Bayley her Boss knucks, allowing the champ to deck the challenger in the gut and follow with a faceplant to score the winning pinfall while Bliss looks on worthlessly from the other side of the ring.
Winner via pinfall and STILL SmackDown Women’s Championship
Match Rating: Dave & Gavin: 2/5
Dave: A Firefly Fun House spot has Wyatt in a vampire cape promising clips of thrills and chills, then blaming Rabbit for playing a clip of the truly horrifying karaoke contest from SmackDown two weeks ago.
Gavin: Get out of my head, Ramblin’ Rabbit.
MVP (challenger) VS. Apollo Crews (champion) for the United States Championship
Dave: MVP is in the ring on the mic, announcing that Crews is not here to defend his title, due to injury at the hands of Lashley. So, he claims the United States Championship as his own, symbolized by his own custom belt.
Gavin: I don’t think that counts for anything.
Match Result: ??? Still United States Champion: Apollo Crews???
Match Rating: Dave: N/A, Gavin: N/A
Seth Rollins VS. Rey Mysterio – Eye for an Eye Match
Gavin: Rollins has, of course, brought pliers to remove the eye of Rey. They both grab some toys early; Rey grabs a piece of rebar and Rollins grabs a kendo stick. Mysterio goes for a hurricanrana but Rollins delivers a brutal falcon arrow on the apron. Mysterio has a mask, so why doesn’t he just wear a mask with some protection on his other eye? This whole match is so goofy.
Dave: Rollins tries to get Mysterio’s eye out with his bare hands. I really don’t think Rollins knows what he’s doing. Stalking him, taunting him with “I’m gonna get that eye, Rey”, Rollins attacks Mysterio with the rebar. He’s then thinking of using the kendo stick to get Mysterio’s eye. Then a chair. Rollins has yet to show he has any understanding of what winning this match is going to take.
Gavin: It seems that before they use the weapons normally, they give it a try on the eye first. Rollins gets himself a screwdriver. There have been times where someone has been thrown into a garbage truck and got “crushed”, and the idea of committing murder was sort of forgotten about, but there is no way with what they’re doing to “extract” each other’s eyes that this match should end with anything but criminal charges.
Dave: Now Rollins grabs a pen and thrusts it at Mysterio who ducks out of the way. That’s good because, and let’s be clear here, Rollins was trying to stab Mysterio in the eye with a pen with massive thrust, which probably would have killed him. And the silliest part is that it wouldn’t have taken his eye out. Mysterio brings Rollins into the corner of the announcer’s table with a drop-toe hold. Samoa Joe excitedly cries out “Did he get him? Did he get him?”, wondering if perhaps the fall popped Rollins’ eye out. The Pirates of the Caribbean theme won’t go away.
Gavin: Mysterio goes for a sunset flip powerbomb but Rollins counters it into a flapjack. Rollins misses a stomp and gets punished with a tornado DDT. Mysterio gets stacked up for an electric chair, but he reverses it into a powerbomb into the barricade. He goes back in the ring and dives out for another powerbomb. I like the ref checking, like “is your eye still there?”
Dave: Tom Phillips is trying so hard, saying that Mysterio is going to have to wear Rollins down a lot more before trying to remove his eye. Byron Saxton chimes in with “this is the gravest of circumstances we’ve ever seen in a WWE match”. Ummm … Buried Alive? How about even the ladder match for the custody of Dominik? By the way, shouldn’t the ref have automatically put on gloves to begin this match?
Gavin: Rollins tries to drive Rey’s eye into the stairs, but Rey counters with a stomp. Rey removes his patch to show a cheesy contact lens.
Dave: That’s a vintage Jake Roberts contact lens special, right there.
Gavin: Mysterio drives Rollins’ eye into the stairs, but the Messiah counters with a mule kick to the balls. Rollins delivers a stomp and then drives Rey’s eye into the stairs. After he sees that he has indeed removed Mysterio’s eyeball he promptly vomits, and Rey is escorted out with a fake eyeball hanging out.
Dave: Joe delivers what will truly be his “With God as my witness” legacy line: “It’s out”. Well, I guess I’ll take back everything I said about a blunt object being pressed inward as an ineffective way to remove an eyeball. Actually, no I won’t.
Winner via pinfall and owner of two good eyes: Seth Rollins
Match Rating: Dave: 1/5, Gavin: 1/5
Sasha Banks (challenger, w/Bayley) VS. Asuka (champion, w/ Kairi Sane) for the Raw Women’s Championship
Dave: An early Bank Statement forces Asuka to crawl to the ropes, and Banks looks absolutely shocked moments later as a meteora only gets a two-count. Asuka traps Banks in an armbar and it’s Banks who has to struggle to the ropes.
Gavin: Kairi is very amusing as a hyped-up fan by ringside. Asuka and Banks engage in some very impressive chain wrestling before Banks makes the mistake of getting into a striking match with Asuka, who makes her pay with some solid knees.
Dave: Banks uses a nasty looking finger-lock to bring Asuka down. The ref forces her to break the hold, and Pete Dunne watches from home wondering if he missed a memo. Now that I’ve come this far pointing out the thundering Pirates of the Caribbean theme, I might as well keep going as it echoes throughout the Performance Centre once more. Banks dodges a punch and counters with a massive spinning backfist, bringing Banks to the mat and a PTSD flashback to Bayley.
Gavin: Sasha powerbombs Asuka into the plexiglass hard. She delivers a frog splash, gets a 2-count, and then flips her into the Bank Statement. Asuka manages to get to the ropes. Sasha unintelligently trash-talks Asuka and gets a mouthful of forearm for her trouble. The champ rolls Banks up off of the apron for 2, then hits a devastating German suplex and some kicks. Asuka goes out of her element to the top rope and pays for it, missing a dropkick as Banks drives a knee into her for 2.
Dave: Asuka launches Banks with a super German suplex, but the challenger rolls through and charges in with a double-knee strike. Banks climbs the ropes but slips badly, tumbling to the mat. She blows off the ref as Bayley gets on the apron. Sane proves more useful than Bliss and pulls Bayley down (though she pays for it with a Bayley-to-Belly). After a furious series of pinning attempts, Banks finds herself in the Asuka Lock. Bayley tosses one of the tag belts into the ring. While the ref looks to dispose of it, Banks is tapping out behind his back.
Gavin: Asuka tries for the green mist, but Banks ducks and the ref gets hit.
Dave: This gives Bayley the chance to interfere and hit Asuka with the belt. She rips off the referee’s shirt and puts it on, thereby immediately gaining all of his powers like it’s Green Lantern’s ring or The Greatest American Hero’s suit. She places Banks into the pin and counts in a new champ.
Gavin: What happened?? I greatly appreciate, at least, how Bayley counted at the right speed.
Winner and NEW Raw Women’s Champion: Sasha Banks
Match Rating: Dave: 2/5 Gavin: 2/5
Gavin: Nobody? Nobody is coming out to fix this? Gorilla Monsoon would have never stood for this.
Dave: Heck, even Jack Tunney would have fixed it (although, admittedly, it would have taken him a couple of days). And we can’t even settle things this Tuesday in Texas…
Dolph Ziggler (challenger) VS. Drew McIntyre (champion) for the WWE Championship – Mystery Stipulation
Gavin: I predict that the stipulation is that the match can only be won by someone without bagpipes in their theme and without a Scottish accent. So, McIntyre will exit and come back out with the 3MB theme and an American accent.
Dave: Clearly the stipulation will call for the removal of your opponent’s still-beating heart. Ziggler reveals that this will be an Extreme Rules match … for him only. Also, if McIntyre is counted out or disqualified, then Ziggler wins the belt. Here’s the problem, though, in the world we live in tonight: why not, in a regular match with no extenuating stipulations, have Ziggler bring a friend to come and knock out the ref and take his shirt to help him win?
Gavin: Ziggler’s stipulation doesn’t matter much in the early going of the match. Ziggler grabs a chair, but Drew grabs it, gets rid of it, and then throws him across the ring.
Dave: Ziggler sets up a table outside, but McIntyre pulls him up for a superplex and considers dropping through the table – before goes the other way. The announcers applaud his wise thinking as he would not be allowed to use the table. Why not? When, ever, has someone been disqualified for using a table (or any object, for that matter), as a landing point for their opponent?
Gavin: Ziggler finally gets the right idea and kicks the champ in the gonads. He grabs a couple chairs and unleashes an assault upon Drew, smashing his neck against another chair. Hearing Joe on commentary makes me a little sad, and I really hope he comes back someday. McIntyre gets thrown into two posts but fights back with a heavy clothesline.
Dave: McIntyre counts down for a Claymore, which naturally signals Ziggler to prepare a chair shot to the charging champ’s knee, followed by a Zig-Zag for two.
Gavin: Ziggler rolls to the outside, and when McIntyre follows he’s met with a superkick that rolls him up on to the table. Dolph drops an elbow onto him trough the table. Honestly, its ridiculous how Dolph has hit two Zig-Zags, two Famousers, locked in his sleeper and he still hasn’t gotten the win. But Drew is going to hit one Claymore and that will be it.
Dave: Ziggler seems to abandon the “Extreme” plan, clearing the ring of chairs and doing his own countdown for a superkick. McIntyre hears that coming, though, and kips up into a Claymore Kick on the charging challenger to get the 1-2-3. I guess that’s one finisher that actually finishes.
Winner and STILL WWE Champion: Drew McIntyre
Match Rating: Dave: 2/5 Gavin: 2.5/5
Braun Strowman VS. Bray Wyatt – Wyatt Swamp Fight
Dave: Strowman arrives at the swamp to find Wyatt kicking back in his rocking chair, having a chuckle. The lights go out and Wyatt is gone, forcing Strowman to wander through the woods while getting attacked by mystery assailants. Someone knocks Strowman down from behind with a shovel, and when Braun turns to see who … it’s himself! Cut to Strowman, chained to a chair and surrounded by Wyatt’s creepy collectibles. Wyatt’s music signals his arrival. He regales Strowman with a rambling and semi-cosmic monologue, the point of which is that he wants to convince Strowman that he’s not his enemy. He will, however, destroy him so that he can turn Strowman into the monster he’s destined to be.
Gavin: This is fun.This was fun to watch, it must have been fun to record, it’s all around fun. It’s creative, it messes with your head a little, and most of all, it’s legitimately creepy and messed up, unlike the embarrassingly cheesy Eye for an Eye match. Bray is just slipping in and out of different characters so cleanly. This is a masterclass in controlling a gimmick.
Dave: A snake-wielding mystery person enters and apparently Strowman is bit, although he’s suddenly outside fighting more flunkies. He hears a voice calling his name – it’s Alexa Bliss (in apparition form), telling him to come and be with her like he’s always wanted.
Gavin: Except, instead of Bliss, he gets Wyatt. He chokeslams his former master into a boat, which then floats away. Until it floats back, now empty. Wyatt attacks from behind and nearly drowns the big(ger) man. And at this point, it’s much too obvious to not point out: Braun’s body hair is cleanly shaved except for on his pecs, and I hate it.
Dave: Strowman seemingly vanquishes Wyatt into the swamp, uttering “It’s over” as the Extreme Rules logo appears at the bottom of the screen to signify the end of the broadcast.
Gavin: After a fade-out, Wyatt bursts from the water and drags Strowman down with him. All is silent and still. The water turns red, and The Fiend slowly emerges from the depths …
Match Rating: Dave: N/A, Gavin: 4/5
Extreme Rules, July 19th, 2020
Dave: Here’s our combined rating for the show. I enjoyed this last cinematic match for what it was, but I can’t really give it a rating. It was kind of like a second-to-last Saturday Night Live skit, which is all the more entertaining because you were getting a little tired. The show overall mistook the concept of Extreme, I believe, and applied it to storytelling. It was going for shocking, but didn’t balance it with enough plausibility.
Gavin: The lack of plausibility made the swamp match better for me, it allowed me to accept that this was essentially a violent promo by Wyatt and enjoy it for what it was. However the Eye for an Eye match will go down as one of the stupidest ideas ever in my book.