Extreme Rules 2017 from Baltimore, Maryland is in the books, and the majority of fans are sounding like they enjoyed the show. At the very least, fans and critics are all expressing they loved the main event. Reviews of the rest of the show are a little more mixed, however.
As it has always been billed as the night WWE “goes extreme” many memorable moments in WWE’s history have occurred at Extreme Rules PPVs. A few examples include: John Cena defeating a returning Brock Lesnar at Extreme Rules 2012, Brock Lesnar defeating Triple H in a steel cage match in 2013, John Cena defeating Rusev in a “Russian Chain Match” from 2015 and Christian winning his first WWE World Championship by defeating Alberto Del Rio in a ladder match in 2011.
This year there would be no world title on the line, as Raw’s Universal champion, Brock Lesnar, won’t be defending the title again until next month. Instead, a Fatal 5-Way Extreme Rules match was scheduled, with the winner earning the right to face Lesnar at the next PPV. Featuring the brand’s top stars in Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns, the night’s main event need to deliver, and it did.
Here are 10 things WWE got WRONG at Extreme Rules, and 10 they got right.
20. Got Right: Intercontinental Championship Match on a PPV
Extreme Rules 2017 was the first time the Intercontinental championship has been defended on a PPV main show in 2017. You have to go all the way back to TLC 2016 in December for the last time an IC title match made it onto the official PPV part of an event. It’s been defended on Kickoff shows, most notably on the WrestleMania Kickoff show this year, but it took until June to crack an actual PPV.
The intercontinental championship used to be the 2nd most prestigious in the company. Earlier this month, Ambrose claimed he was going to make it the most prestigious on Raw, since Lesnar wasn’t around to defend the Universal title. Whether that is how the title is used or not in the future remains to be seen however.
19. Got Wrong: 5 Minute Women’s Championship Match
The Alexa Bliss/Bayley “This is Your Life” segment from Raw last week went longer than the match the two had at Extreme Rules. If that segment had only been 5 minutes, and their match 15 minutes, things may have worked out better for everyone.
Perhaps WWE was thinking that fans wouldn’t be into this match due to their last Raw segment dying a harsh and cruel death, but they were. In fact, Bliss got one of the bigger reactions of the night, and she was arguably getting cheered more than Bayley. Bliss’ fan base is growing at a considerable rate.
In the end this match was the shortest of the night, going only 5:10. It was just over half the length of Kalisto vs. Apollo Crews. It’s hard to get excited about a division which only takes up 5 minutes of a 3 hour show.
18. Got Right: Showing Adam Jones as Virgil on Camera
WWE is not big on fans dressing up as former wrestlers while attending live events. They will even move such fans to different seats so they are not show on camera.
They made an exception for Baltimore Orioles’ star, Adam Jones, who showed up to the event dressed as Virgil however. His 2 friends were also dressed up as IRS and “the Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase. It was a Money Inc cosplay evidently.
Virgil is an interesting footnote in wrestling’s history. Since leaving WWE, Virgil has become something of a real-life spoof on ex pro-wrestlers desperate for money. According to Ted Dibiase, Virgil used to book him and Dibiase spots at conventions, even though Dibiase never agreed to the dates. Then Virgil would show up without Dibiase, and just say that Ted couldn’t make it. Virgil would always collect his part of the pay cheque however.
17. Got Wrong: Not Mentioning The Miz’s Intercontinental Title Statistics
Many fans watching The Miz win the Intercontinental championship last night are unaware that he is on the verge of achieving several milestones as it concerns the title.
At Extreme Rules, The Miz won the title for a 7th time, which was mentioned. What wasn’t mentioned is that the win moved Miz passed Jeff Jarrett and Rob Van Dam for 2nd most reigns all time. He is only behind Chris Jericho’s 9 title reigns. In 44 days, The Miz will pass Wade Barrett for 10th most days spent as champion, and the most of any superstar since the 1980s.
If The Miz can hold onto the title for 100 more days he will pass Mr. Perfect, Shawn Michaels, Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior, Razor Ramon, Tito Santana and The Honkey Tonk Man, to be the 3rd all-time in that regard. He would only be behind Pedro Morales and Don Muraco.
16. Got Right: Jeff Hardy’s “Whisper in the Wind” From the Top of the Cage
39-year-old Jeff Hardy jumped off the top of the cage at Extreme Rules, and delivered a “Whisper in the Wind” to both Sheamus & Cesaro. Of course, the move left Jeff too injured (only in storyline, thankfully) to escape out the cage door, allowing his opponents to win the titles. If the Hardyz had to lose the titles at Extreme Rules, at least they lost them in awesome fashion.
Some fans might be thinking it is a bit too dangerous to let someone who is almost 40 do such dangerous moves. While the move looked “death-defying” he was caught pretty cleanly by Sheamus and Cesaro when he landed. It was well-executed by both sides, and looked amazing. Jeff is really showing his fans that he hasn’t lost a step.
15. Got Wrong: No Goldust?
Recently on Raw, we’ve seen a return of the old Goldust character. This is the version of Goldust who wasn’t a mid-card comedy act, but rather an edgy heel character that helped usher in the Attitude Era. It is something many old-school fans have been hoping they would get to see at least once more before the performer finally retires.
With the recent split of “the Golden Truth”, it seemed perhaps too quick for them to have a match at a PPV, but there could have been a segment, backstage interview, or something that reminding fans this story is going on. Somehow in a 3-hour show there was no time for Goldust however.
14. Got Right: The “Bad Guys” Steal the Show
At Extreme Rules 2017, “bad guys” won 5 of the 6 main matches. Only the team of Rich Swann & Sasha Banks scored a PPV win for the “good guys”, and that match was only 6 minutes long. Kalisto also won a Kickoff match if you want to count that.
Not only that, but “bad guys” now hold every championship on Raw. Neville, Alexa Bliss, Sheamus & Cesaro, and The Miz are all “bad guys” as well as champions. Brock Lesnar, while popular, usually wrestles against “good guys” so is generally considered a “bad guy”.
Some would say the dominance of the heel side on Raw is a bad thing, but we’re going to disagree in this case. It’s good to stray away from booking trends that make the product predictable, and one of those is trying to have the heel and babyface sides always seem so balanced.
13. Got Wrong: Dean Ambrose’s Extreme Rules on Opposite Day Match
Each match had some type of stipulation at Extreme Rules. The Ambrose vs. Miz match had one of the more peculiar stipulations however. At Extreme Rules, Ambrose could lose his title by being disqualified. This meant that Ambrose’s match was actually an “Extreme Enforcement of the Rules Match” (credit to Matt Striker from ECW’s December to Dismember PPV for that line).
On a night where WWE “goes extreme”, Ambrose had to pay particular attention to the rules. While this story was mildly clever, it dragged over the course of their 20 minute match. There is only so long one can be reminded of by the commentary team about Ambrose being able to lose the title on a disqualification.
12. Got Right: Alicia Fox Returns to PPV
Many people don’t realize this, but Alicia Fox is actually one of the most experienced female performers in WWE history. She has now been with the company for 10 years. That’s longer than Trish Stratus, Lita, Chyna, or any other women’s division competitor aside from Natalya.
Fox tends to get lost in the shuffle however, and as such 2017 was the first time in a long time on PPV for Fox. Her last PPV match was at Survivor Series 2016 when she was part of the 10-person Raw vs Smackdown women’s match. Before then you have to go back to SummerSlam 2015, when she was in a 9-person 3-way tag team match.
11. Got Wrong: Neville vs. Austin Aries in The “Death Spot”
It’s called the “Death Spot”, and it is where angles go to die.
The Death Spot is the match directly after a particularly exciting match, say the tag team title cage match, but before the main event. The spot is supposed to give fans a chance to recover after an exciting match, so that they have enough energy for the main event. Last night, instead of giving the death spot to say the inter-gender tag match, they gave it to Austin Aries and Neville.
Not only that, but this was the blowoff to their feud, and the crowd hadn’t recovered from the exciting cage match which came before it. Aries and Neville did have a good match, but it is unclear where the cruiserweight division is going from here.
10. Got Right: Bayley Character “Arc”
Fear not huggers, Bayley will be back in the title picture, but not until she overcomes her new “story arc”.
Bayley’s already won the title before, so now she needs something extra to make her current title chase seem as important as her first. As what occurs in most movies, WWE has identified a character flaw in Bayley that is currently leading to her downfall: she’s too nice. Bayley hesitated at her chance to hit Bliss with the kendo stick , costing her the match. Now, for Bayley to win the title again someday we know she’ll have to learn to be meaner, more willing to hurt her opponents, and more willing to get extreme.
9. Got Wrong: The Titus Brand
On the Extreme Rules Kickoff show, Titus O’Neil managed Apollo Crews in a losing effort against Kalisto. Is there anyone who feels the Titus O’Neil as Apollo Crews’ manager storyline will turn into something fans would be willing to pay to see?
Why would Apollo Crews want Titus’ help anyway? Most fans don’t even know what Titus’ finishing move is since he’s been in a position to use it so rarely throughout his WWE career.
It would be great if WWE decided to bring back managers, but please don’t start the trend with Titus. If anything, have him manage someone on 205 Live, that way he could give comedic advice to someone like Drew Gulak or Tony Nese. Then it would at least be funny how much he towers over the wrestlers he manages.
8. Got Right: Well-Timed Cage Match Ending
How many times has WWE tried to do an ending where two wrestlers both land on the floor at around the same time and completely messed it up? Well, not at Extreme Rules. Cesaro & Sheamus were supposed to land just before Matt dragged Jeff Hardy out of the cage and that’s exactly what happened.
It didn’t hurt that Matt was staring right at his opponents as he was dragging his brother out, of course. Still, this is a spot that looks horrible if it is mistimed, as was the case during a Smackdown battle royal earlier this year, when Luke Harper and AJ Styles were supposed to land at the same time, except Styles clearly landed on the floor first.
7. Got Wrong: Nobody Beat Up Elias Samson
On a night, where 5 of the 6 main matches ended up with the bad guys winning, did we also need a segment with “The Drifter”? If you include Elias Samson singing as an in-ring segment, then 6 out of 7 in-ring segments on the PPV ended with a heel getting what they wanted.
It would have made far more sense for someone like Big Cass to come out, get a big pop from the crowd, and then beat up Elias Samson and send him packing. It’s not as though he is the kind of heel you need to wait awhile until giving them their comeuppance.
6. Got Right: Rich Swann Gets a Hometown Victory
It’s not so much that Rich Swann was given a victory in his hometown, as it is that anyone, anyone at all, was given a win in their hometown.
WWE loves to have superstars lose when wrestling in cities they are affiliated with. A few examples include: Sasha Banks losing in the main event of Hell in a Cell from Boston, Charlotte losing to Alexa Bliss at Payback in San Jose, and AJ Styles losing to Dolph Ziggler on a recent Smackdown from Atlanta.
Rich Swann, who is from Baltimore, broke the trend however, when he pinned rival cruiserweight Noam Dar at Extreme Rules. It’s not altogether clear where WWE is going from here with this storyline however.
5. Got Wrong: No Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows?
The Club seems to have fallen down the tag team rankings as of late. After walking into WrestleMania 33 as champions, Gallows and Anderson are now out of the title picture, and not even on PPVs at all at the moment.
At Payback, Raw’s first PPV after WrestleMania, Gallows and Anderson were on the Kickoff show, losing to Enzo and Cass. Now, Enzo and Cass seem as though they are moving into another storyline, most likely with the Revival (or possibly against each other, which has been teased as well). Anderson and Gallows have nothing going at the moment, and are now arguably the lowest ranked heel team on Raw.
4. Got Right: Main Event Storytelling/Finn Balor Looking Strong
There were some subtle, and some not so subtle, stories told during the main event.
The first was told in the match’s opening minutes, when Roman Reigns was left alone in “his yard”, as all 4 other superstars paired off and fought outside the ring. Reigns would then prevent people from re-entering said yard. Not long after, Balor ended up alone in the ring and was stomping on others trying to get in. This could have perhaps alluded to the idea that Balor is on-par with Reigns in storyline.
Balor was made to look strong in the match as well, arguably stronger than Reigns. The finish of the match came when Balor hit the Coup De Grace on Reigns and looked to have him pinned, only for Joe to lock in the Coquina Clutch from behind for the win.
3. Got Wrong: No Paul Heyman Promo
2 weeks ago on Raw, Paul Heyman gave an impassioned speech regarding who would be next in line to challenge Brock Lesnar. According to Heyman, each superstar would just be another victim, except for Finn Balor. Heyman praised Balor, and made it seem to all the world that a Lesnar vs. Balor match is not far away.
While Paul Heyman will no doubt be delivering promos all month long in the build-up to the next PPV, WWE missed the boat by not having him come out before the main event at Extreme Rules, just to remind everyone what was in store for the winner. In general, it’s never a bad idea to give Heyman a chance to talk.
2. Got Right: Samoa Joe’s Victory
While fans of the other 4 guys were left somewhat disappointed, there is hardly anyone who could be upset about the idea of Brock Lesnar vs. Samoa Joe in the main event of next month’s PPV.
Joe has used a more realistic, MMA-style in his matches for over a decade now. He’s had MMA elements in his pro-wrestling style even before Brock Lesnar left pro-wrestling for MMA. Joe vs. Lesnar is a match between two superstars with similar but also uniquely different styles, and it seems as though they would mesh well together.
Both guys tend to place emphasis on having their matches look as authentic as possible, which should create an interesting dynamic, even if their match only goes 5-10 minutes.
1. Got Wrong: Limited Mention of “Great Balls of Fire” PPV Name
Not one superstar or commentator made mention of the PPV name “Great Balls of Fire” until after the main event concluded. When you have a PPV name that has drawn as much attention as “Great Balls of Fire” you have to milk that puppy for all its worth!
Imagine the amazing commentary lines which could have been used at Extreme Rules:
“Here comes Finn Balor, will he be the one to tangle with Brock Lesnar in the fiery inferno that will be Great Balls of Fire?!!”
“Roman Reigns! What will happen to his yard when it is engulfed in flames from those Great Balls of Fire?!!”
“Goodness Gracious, Samoa Joe will face Brock Lesnar, at Great Balls of Fire!”
Perhaps at the PPV if someone hits a low-blow on their opponent the call could be:
“Oh no! He hit him in the Great Balls of Fire!”
There are a lot of different places they could have gone with it.