The SmarK Rant for WWE Extreme Rules 2016 – 05.22.16
Live from Newark, NJ.
Your hosts are Michael Cole, JBL and Byron-Bot.
Tornado match: The Usos v. The Club
The Usos (more like the BOO-sos, AM I RIGHT?) attack Gallows in the corner, which gives the announcers a chance to already tell us how PASSIONATE about Roman Reigns that we all are. Jey with a flying bodypress on Anderson for two while JBL tells us that this is a fantasy league dream match. One which we’ve seen a whole bunch of times on TV already, but still a dream match, I guess. The Club hits the Boot of Doom off the apron on Jey to take over while JBL talks about other great teams out of Japan, like, you know, the Hell Raisers. THAT’S the random Japanese team that he pulls out as an example of his favorites? Jimmy gets double-teamed on the floor and Anderson hits a low kick on Jey for two in the ring. Jimmy breaks up the Boot of Doom and the Usos suddenly recover with superkicks and go up, but Jey misses and everyone hits their big moves. It’s 5:00 in and everyone lays around selling like they’re dead. JBL clarifies that everyone is having fun beating people up. Because that’s what’s important. Everyone’s just having fun! Jey gets tossed into the crowd and Gallows grabs the bell, but Jey steals it from him. He misses a splash, however, and the Club finishes with the Magic Killer at 8:33. Never really got going as the Usos are just so beyond stale at this point. **1/2
US title: Kalisto v. Rusev
Kalisto tries to fly, but Rusev pulls the wings off him and stomps him down in the corner and pounds away with elbows for two. Kalisto kicks him in the knee, but Rusev puts him down with a clothesline for two. To the bearhug, and then a Torture rack, but Kalisto turns it into a sleeper. Rusev slams out of it, but Kalisto keeps coming with a tornado DDT and makes the comeback. Rana gets two. Rusev charges and hits the floor, so Kalisto follows with another rana into the stairs (which looked pretty contrived) and that gets two in the ring. Rusev bails to escape the finish, but Kalisto hits him with a moonsault to the floor. Back in, he goes up and Rusev slams him on the apron, but the ref keeps forcing Rusev away to check on Kalisto. So Rusev just puts him in the Accolade anyway and regains the US title at 9:38. That version, with Kalisto bent over backwards, looks WAY better than the usual camel clutch version. What was with the stupid ref spot at the end? Good TV match until the thing where we’re supposed to feel bad for the babyface because he got hurt on a simple slam. **3/4 Thank god the Kalisto reign of curtain jerking is over.
WWE tag team titles: The New Day v. Vaudevillains
Xavier is actually wrestling tonight, so you know they’re not taking this one seriously. The New Day’s pre-match spiel continues to rule (“IT WAS A TIME MACHINE!”) but they’ve got nothing to work with in this feud. Xavier quickly hits the post on a blind charge and the heels take over as English drops a knee for two and goes to the chinlock. Michael Cole describes Gotch’s style as “really old school” and JBL chimes in with “Yeah, like Crusher and Bruiser”. What the hell does one have to do with the other? Hot tag Big E, but English counters the spear with a knee and gets two. Big E goes to finish, but the heels dump the New Day and hit the Whirling Dervish on Woods for two. Big E returns, however, destroys English with the spear, and Woods finishes Gotch with a Shining Wizard at 6:00 to retain. Another TV-level match, barely above the level of a squash for the champions. **
Intercontinental title: The Miz v. Kevin Owens v. Cesaro v. Sami Zayn
Sami takes out Owens with the mafia kick immediately while Cesaro takes out Miz, leaving us with a nice Zayn v. Cesaro opening sequence. Cesaro with a backbreaker for two, but Miz returns and immediately gets dumped again by Sami and hit with a dive. Back in, Miz slugs away on Zayn and tries a superplex, but Owens returns and beats on everyone before focusing on Zayn. Senton gets two. Owens keeps throwing Sami into the other guys to knock them off the apron, and he blocks a Sami ropewalk by dropping him on the top rope. Owens to the top, but MIz (the “modern day Audie Murphy” according to C. Montgomery Bradshaw on commentary) breaks it up, allowing Cesaro to hit everyone with a Tower of Doom powerbomb. Sami with a Blue Thunder Bomb on Cesaro, but Miz breaks it up with a kick for two. Then we get a wacky double suplex out of the corner, with Cesaro hitting Miz with a german while Miz is hitting Sami with an exploder! With three guys in the corners, Cesaro goes nuts with forearms on all of them in a fun sequence, but Owens breaks up the Giant Swing with a german suplex. So now Owens hits all the guys with cannonballs, but Zayn escapes the powerbomb before falling victim to the Swiss Death forearm, and then Miz hits the skull crushing finale for two on Cesaro. Cesaro comes back with the corkscrew elbow and it’s Giant Swing time for Miz, into the Sharpshooter. Miz makes the ropes, but Maryse distracts the ref while Miz taps behind his back. Owens rolls up Cesaro for two off that and Cesaro tries another Giant Swing, but Owens dives in with a splash on Miz to break it up. Cesaro gives Owens the Neutralizer for two, but Zayn saves. Zayn with a backslide on Cesaro for two and a Code Red for two. Zayn charges and hits a forearm, but he was just faking and comes back with the exploder into the corner and mafia kick…which is blocked by Owens with a superkick and powerbomb for two on Cesaro. Miz saves that and hits the Finale on Owens on the floor, but only gets two on Cesaro in the ring. Everyone is out, legitimately so in this case, but Zayn hits the kick on Cesaro for two before Owens saves. Zayn has just had enough of THAT shit and attacks Owens on the floor, but meanwhile Miz steals the pin on Cesaro at 18:10 to retain. Wasn’t time for the Miz to lose to yet and no one was hurt by it, so that’s fine. Hell of a match, with a nice storyline to the finish where Zayn’s continued obsession with Owens costs him the title. ****1/2 There’s your $9.99 worth right there.
Asylum Match: Chris Jericho v. Dean Ambrose
Ambrose attacks right away and Jericho demands the door be opened, but apparently that’s not a thing that can happen. So the idea here is that it’s a cage match, but there’s a variety of goofy weapons hanging from the ceiling, like a mop and bucket and potted plant. They fight on the top rope and Jericho successfully grabs the mop first, which gives us a Perry Saturn reference in 2016. Ambrose gets the mop and uses it while the announcers talk like Saturn is dead or something. I’m pretty sure he’s still alive and working indies, in fact. Jericho goes for the 2×4 and Ambrose cuts him with a backdrop suplex as this match just dies before our eyes. So Ambrose gets nunchuks and Jericho gets the barbed wire 2×4, which has Jericho overly confident about his chances. So of course Ambrose wins that battle and now Jericho runs away and finds the kendo stick. He pounds away with that as we all know what the finish is leading up to and everything else is just killing time. So now Jericho gets the giant leather strap and works him over with that. JBL’s analysis: “Steve Austin and Savio Vega had a strap match and the lights went out on the PPV!” Wow, that’s so incredibly insightful. Dean gets to whip Jericho with the strap next because it’s his turn and this is just going nowhere slowly. Very slowly. Next up, Ambrose gets the fire extinguisher as they have to plod through EVERY FUCKING WEAPON instead of just going to the one that everyone wants to see. Jericho covers Dean’s face with the straitjacket and hits the enzuigiri for two, then we get a spot that’s supposed to be serious heat where Jericho literally straps him into the jacket. And this is a thing that we’re supposed to take seriously. Dean thankfully fights his way out of that deadly predictament, lest Jericho dangle him upside-down over a shark tank or something, and makes the comeback. This match feels like someone tied it in a straitjacket. Finally, 17 minutes in, they start doing near-falls with Jericho’s backbreaker for two and Ambrose’s lariat and bulldog. They fight on the top while the crowd chants for the PLASTIC BUCKET, but Ambrose hits the top rope elbow instead. So Dean obliges and gets the bucket, which is filled with thumbtacks, in the universal carrying case of a black bag. Do promoters buy those bags in bulk or something? They do a bunch of teases of actually using the tacks, but it ends with Jericho getting the Walls while everyone patiently waits for the potted plant and doesn’t seem to give a crap about the match. At this point some guys try to start the opposite of the “awesome” chant, with “This is boring”. Sadly, it doesn’t catch on. Jericho sprays Ambrose with the extinguisher and gets the codebreaker for two, but Chekhov’s potted plant is still there so that can’t be the finish and everyone knows it. Jericho hits him with the barbed wire in a way that no human being outside of a PG wrestling promotion would hit someone with a barbed wire 2×4, but Ambrose finally drops Jericho on the thumbtacks to pay off that nonsense. Dirty Deeds finishes at 26:23 as Jericho’s arms are a bloody mess. And they didn’t even pay off the stupid potted plant! This was veering aggressively into the negative stars for the most part, but the finish was decent enough. * Just way, way too long though.
Submission match, WWE Women’s title: Charlotte v. Natalya
Nattie works the legs as the announcers suddenly come up with a storyline about how Natalya was there to welcome Charlotte into the WWE when she came up for the Divas Revolution nonsense. Nattie wasn’t even on TV at that point! Natalya with a bow and arrow hold and a discus clothesline to put Charlotte on the floor and they fight out there for a bit, where Charlottle hits the post and hurts her shoulder. Back in, Charlotte tries a figure-four, but Nattie spins into an armbar and Charlotte powerbombs out of that. She continues to work the leg and suplexes her on the ropes, then gets a moonsault into a half-crab. The lack of pinfalls is really hurting the heat here. Nattie comes back with a german suplex and gets the Sharpshooter, and immediately everyone looks to the back. So Flair’s music plays and Nattie breaks the hold like a moron, as Dana Brooke comes out with a ridiculous Flair wig and robe. This was supposed to be a serious heat spot, and of course poor stupid Nattie gets locked in the figure-eight and taps at 9:25. Dana Brooke looks totally unrecognizable with a new look and makeup, which made this even more of a flat finish. Another huge letdown. **
WWE World title, Extreme Rules: Roman Reigns v. AJ Styles
JBL continues to tell us how passionately we feel about Roman Reigns. That’s the problem, we really don’t. People boo him because it’s the new cool thing to do, not because he elicits any particular passion from the fanbase. Stars might draw reactions, but more importantly they draw ratings and money and buyrates, none of which Roman can lay claim to. But if they want a top babyface who gets booed out of the building, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! They slug it out and Reigns puts him down with a high knee, sending AJ to the floor. AJ grabs a chair and gets nowhere with that. Back to the floor and Styles puts him into the crowd and we get the walk-and-punch thing where they magically compel each other by the hair until wandering over to the kickoff table so AJ can take a bump on that. AJ comes back with a forearm off the table and they wander back to the ring again. Poor AJ struggles with lifting up the mats, but Roman manages to escape a Styles Clash on the concrete while the referee has to stand on the mat to keep it from falling back into place again. Very subtle. To the announce tables, where AJ charges and gets backdropped through the table. That seems like a bad idea for someone with a bad back. The crowd, without missing a beat, chants “You still suck”. Tough crowd. Back in, Reigns gets two. Splash Mountain gets two. Reigns goes for the superman punch, but AJ clips the knee to counter and suplexes him into the corner to take over. JBL immediately goes into hyperbole mode, declaring that Reigns can’t continue and the title might change hands by ref stoppage! And then Reigns immediately comes back on the floor and powerbombs Styles through a table to show how injured he is. Poor AJ is just killing himself trying to get this fucker over. Truthfully, Roman going out there and wrecking fools is exactly how he should have been booked all along. Reigns misses a spear and runs into the barricade, but Roman blocks the forearm with the superman punch and knocks him to the floor. Roman follows with a spear, but now the Club runs out for the beatdown and the Boot of Doom gets two. The Usos make the save and hit AJ with the flying splash, and Reigns gets two off that. Babyfaces don’t act like that, dumbasses. Reigns cleans house on the Club with superman punches, but AJ counters the spear with the Styles Clash for two. AJ tries another one onto the chair, but Reigns powers out, so AJ hits the Pele Kick, followed by the Clash onto the chair, which gets two thanks to the Usos saving. Finally Styles just beats the shit out of everyone with the chair 1-on-3 in frustration, but Reigns counters the forearm with the spear to retain at 22:14. What a hero. Beating Reigns there would have made AJ into a giant star after that performance, but instead it continues to flatten out Reigns. And then SETH ROLLINS returns, laying out Reigns with a Pedigree to set up the main event of Money in the Bank. There’s no way they can book Rollins as a heel out of that, but I bet they’ll try. Really good smoke-and-mirrors match, as they did the Attitude Era kitchen sink brawl and AJ bumped all over the place trying to make Reigns. It didn’t work, but god bless him for trying. ****
With 2 **** matches and nothing I’d call outright bad (except for maybe the Asylum match) this is an easy and strong thumbs up for the Network era. It wasn’t PPV of the year or anything, but it was definitely on the same level as Payback last month and featured a strong main event and finish.