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Hits & Botches: WWE Extreme Rules 2016

Extreme Rules looked great on paper, but unfortunately a lot of the matches just didn’t quite deliver. Jericho and Ambrose was an overlong and overly gimmicked snoozefest, and a lot of the other undercard matches were just standard TV matches. Fortunately the IC title match completely delivered and the main event, while still showcasing the same single minded “protect Roman at all costs” mentality, was pretty great from an in-ring perspective.

Hits

Seth Rollins returns

252_RULES_05222016jg_1370--4cebfbe2c108ffde914f65b01a71793fCrossfit Jesus has returned to save us from the Roman Empire in a great moment to close out the night. Bafflingly enough, it looks like WWE will resume pushing Rollins as the top heel, opposite Reigns. He hit the ring after the main event, sneaking in and blindsiding Reigns with a Pedigree, which would suggest that Rollins is still probably going to be linked to Triple H. And given the way he surprise attacked Reigns, without any heroic entrance or music, it looks like we’re in for a heel Rollins/babyface Reigns program. But judging by the adulation that the crowd bestowed upon Rollins, the guy is going to have a hard time being received as a heel going forward.

Fatal Four-Way

126_RULES_05222016jg_0373--abd51e6ece59b83622519cf81006e633This was the match of the night for me. All four men brought it. It was well wrestled and loaded with drama, and everyone got their spots in. The unpredictability really added to the match and the live audience was amped for a title change, popping for every near fall. Miz ended up retaining, but it was such a solid match and so well booked and wrestled that I’m completely fine with it. The Miz’s pre-show promo was super entertaining and I’m interested to see who continues to chase him for the title. At this point, I’d be fine if Miz held the title for a solid few months at least to try and build it up.

Rusev wins the US Title again

087_RULES_05222016jg_0171--862e61805221f2b0114490e8156cc422A short and simple match. Kalisto had some impressive offense, but the ultimate goal here was met – Rusev looks like a monster again. Some might not like the ending with the worked injury and the doctor checking on Kalisto, but it added a ton of heat on Rusev and garners sympathy for Kalisto. It’ll be interesting to see how long of a reign Rusev gets. One would assume that Kalisto will be in line for a rematch, but with John Cena’s return imminent, I can’t help but feel that Rusev is just keeping the belt warm for him.

Tornado Tag

046_036_RULES_05222016ej_0159--37903d85545f134cfd9cfd58184234f3A busy and solid opener. I was actually legitimately expecting for a minute that The Usos would pull out an upset. Gallows & Anderson absolutely needed this win and they got it. We don’t see too many tornado style tag matches, so it’s cool when we get the occasional one.

The New Day retain

099_RULES_05222016MM_0566--f0c78239299994e6ffaf2a236d233faaA minor hit as a fun enough tag match, albeit it could have fit just as easily on another episode of Raw or SmackDown and didn’t really have a big PPV feel to it. The New Day were, as usual, insanely over. The crowd loved them. The Vaudevillains seemed to get a little more heat than usual, which could maybe be chalked up to them destroying Xavier’s “time machine” (it’s actually just a refrigerator box) and beating down The New Day on Raw last Monday. You could argue that a babyface team shouldn’t be using a heelish distraction finish to win, but The New Day are a different breed of tag team, and the finish actually protected The Vaudevillains to an extent. New Day going out there and completely obliterating The Vaudevillains and pinning them clean would have just derailed them way too quickly.

Botches

The Asylum

183_RULES_05222016ej_0940--5628eb4bf351de7b96146f01292c63e6Ambrose and Jericho obviously both worked hard, and the thumbtack spot was brutal and I completely didn’t expect Jericho to take such an unnecessary bump. But everything prior to this spot was just not working. The match was way too long, and you could tell they were trying to stretch things out and make the match last as long as possible, as they teased every single weapon. The match was just way too gimmicky and, despite having two great wrestlers in there, they just couldn’t get things to click right. Granted, they were in a rough spot on the card, having to follow a killer fatal four-way, but they just failed to get the crowd invested until right near the very end. Crazy thumbtack spot aside, this felt like another vanilla PG street fight, where the weapons are used very gently and you know they’re playing it really safe. Maybe this match would’ve gotten over better ten years ago, but not today.

Roman Reigns is unbeatable

251_RULES_05222016ej_1468--b913e4ea95ed5cca0662210fe4579cfcThe main event was another solid bout between AJ Styles and Roman Reigns. It wasn’t completely unlike last months, Styles really made Reigns look like a million bucks again. Reigns does come across as this great powerhouse. But the booking really, really irked me. You would think that 10-years of Super Cena booking and fans booing the hell out of Cena would have taught them how not to force someone down the audience’s throats. Reigns took insane levels of punishment, including multiple Phenomenal Forearms, the Boot of Doom, a sick amount of chair shots, as well as two Styles Clashes (including one over a steel chair) and Reigns still kept powering on to the point that it seems like defeating him is an impossible feat. This kind of babyface does not hold much appeal in 2016. This kind of superman like booking is acceptable for Brock Lesnar maybe, and perhaps to a certain degree, The Undertaker. But this is just a stubborn attempt at making Reigns look strong to such an obnoxious degree. It’s one thing for him to kick out of moves and withstand some punishment. But this kind of thing completely kills his opponent’s credibility. The next time someone kicks out of the Styles Clash and the crowd doesn’t pop, this is why.

Women’s Championship shenanigans 

205_RULES_05222016MM_1544--4976b0b2dabe0a148670679b3897cc3bCharlotte and Natalya didn’t have the great match that I was expecting. It felt like a Raw match, just without pinfalls. Given the hype involving Charlotte having to do this on her own, and the stipulation of no Flair at ringside, it really felt like this would be a proper feud ender with Charlotte getting a strong victory. I know she’s a heel and heels cheat and do dubious things, but it’s fine for them to get a clean win sometimes when it’s time for the program to move on. Instead, they had Dana Brooke come out for the distraction finish and rather than getting a great heel reaction, everyone just groaned and rolled their eyes. On the one hand, the new Dana/Charlotte pairing is intriguing, but on the other hand this leaves questions as to where the women’s division stands. Rumour is that Sasha Banks will be getting pushed around SummerSlam, but every other female on the roster is either injured or has been beaten by Charlotte multiple times. They could do a Natalya rematch though I guess, given that she still hasn’t lost clean. I just wasn’t a fan of the messy finish here given that the build towards this indicated that we’d get a clean finish.

All photos via WWE.com

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