Wow. What a night, eh?
Let’s preface this “review” by stating that I had very little interest in and hope for this pay-per-view event. With that said, even I’m shocked at just how bad Extreme Rules 2018 turned out.
This was, without a doubt, the worst pay-per-view event I’ve seen in quite some time. Even worse than Backlash a few months ago.
It’s not the fault of the wrestlers. I appreciate what they do to attempt to entertain the fans and the effort to do the best with what they’re given. Everything bad about this show is squarely centered around the booking, and that ultimately falls on the hands of Vince McMahon.
The opening match for the RAW Tag Team Championship was fine for what it was. It was sub 10-minutes and felt like a standard RAW match, but that’s fine. I like both Axel and Dallas, so I’m happy for them, but comedy acts just don’t do anything for me. I’m also not a fan of someone, or some team, losing constantly, suddenly winning a couple of times and then immediately getting a title.
Baron Corbin against Finn Balor was yet another eight minute RAW television match. It was just there, and it didn’t do anything to benefit either man. The action was decent,I guess, but if a match is so meaningless and forgotten five minutes after it happened then I’m of the opinion that it might as well have been cut from the show. Finn Balor gets the win, and I just don’t see what was accomplished.
If the first two matches were meh, then here is where the show really started to slide. Asuka challenges Carmella for the Smackdown Women’s Championship, with James Ellsworth in a shark cage above the ring. Anyone who has watched wrestling over the years automatically knows nothing good comes from putting someone inside a shark cage. It almost never prevents said person from interfering. Here, Ellsworth escapes but gets tangled up and dangles from the cage upside down. So naturally Asuka has to focus on him and not Carmella, and ends up losing yet again. Carmella just isn’t a good wrestler, and the misuse of Asuka is just downright baffling. She’s someone who was made to be special through years of booking her correctly, and yet I barely even remember her winning a match since she arrived on Smackdown. They’ve ruined her, and made her out to be an idiot at the same time. Absurd. Note that this match lasted just over five minutes.
Next up, Jeff Hardy “defended” the US Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura. Shinsuke hit Hardy with a low blow before the match began, then followed it up with a Kinshasa once the bell rang and picked up the win in about five seconds. We have a new US Champion, and yet the only thing I could think was that we just got robbed out of what was one of the better looking matches on paper heading into the event. Afterwards, Randy Orton returned and gave a good stomp to Hardy’s nuts for good measure. Why? Why not?
The steel cage match between Strowman and Owens followed up the five second championship match. The magic number tonight seems to be eight minutes, because that’s how long this one lasted too. I give Owens a ton of credit for taking the huge bump from the top of the cage through the announcer’s table. It was a fun spot to see again. But here we have Braun Strowman not caring about winning a match, and tossing Owens off the top of the cage to give Owens the win. I’m not sure at this point why Strowman is a face considering he keeps doing terrible things to Owens, and Owens hasn’t done anything to Strowman to actually deserve it. All the horrible things has happened because Owens wanted to be his friends and had the nerve to celebrate their count-out victory when the two were forced to team together.
The Smackdown Tag Team Championship was up for grabs next with The Bludgeon Brothers defending against Team Hell No. Earlier in the night, the Bludgeon’s attacked Bryan and Kane backstage, smashing Kane’s foot with the hammer. So naturally, that leaves Daniel Bryan to go it alone against the monster champions. Of course the injured Kane shows up, gets in a little bit of offense, but it’s not enough as Daniel Bryan falls victim to the numbers game and is pinned in just over, wait for it, eight minutes. Disappointing.
Roman Reigns and Bobby Lashley battled, surprisingly not the main event. Maybe there’s hope for AJ Styles finally getting the top spot! This wasn’t an interesting match going into it. My disinterest aside, both guys worked hard and gave a respectable match. The best of the night to this point. It also went almost 15 minutes, so it had that going for it. This seemed like a lock for a Roman victory, but surprisingly Lashley got the W. Where does that leave Roman in the hunt for the Universal Championship? I’m sure he’ll still get the match, but at least the getting to it could be interesting, so that’s something I guess.
The RAW Women’s Championship match was on the line in the only Extreme Rules match of the night, as Alexa Bliss defended against Nia Jax. The bully Nia had to bring Natalya out to the ring for back up, so Alexa had Mickie James accompany her just to keep Nia and Natalya from cheating. They did the usual “Alexa is scared” bit before she took control of the match. Near the end, Natalya attacked Mickie James which led to Alexa saving her friend. This two on one “provoked” Ronda Rousey into jumping the barricade and attacking Mickie James. Ronda tried to take out Alexa, but luckily she didn’t do a very good job of dealing with Mickie who laid out Rousey with a kendo stick. Realizing the odds were stacked against them in a three-on-two situation, Mickie helped Alexa take out Nia Jax and retain the Women’s Championship. See, bullies don’t win. Nia needed help from two women and still couldn’t regain the title from the talented goddess known as Little Miss Bliss. Also, this match didn’t even last eight minutes and was pretty silly.
Hey, it’s WWE Championship time. That means that AJ Styles, WWE Champion, still can’t get a main event. I’m a huge supporter of both AJ and Rusev. I was hoping against hope that Rusev would get the win here. The man deserves the WWE Championship and if he can’t win it on Smackdown then there’s no hope for it. Both guys worked hard, and this was a really solid match. I’ll give it the match of the night. There was a spot at the end where Aiden English exposed the turnbuckle, and Rusev eventually ended up hitting it. This led to AJ picking up the pinfall victory in just over 15 minutes. I’d like to see Rusev get another crack at the title, but it looks more like we’re going to get a Rusev split from Aiden English. Hopefully that means they’ll put Lana back in his corner and get the man back on track.
The main event was a 30 minute Iron Man match with Dolph Ziggler defending his Intercontinental Championship against Seth Rollins. I disliked this match, not because of the in-ring action which was very good, but rather because of the booking. I despise Iron Man matches with lots of falls. This one, Seth Rollins was up 3-0 before 10 minutes had even expired. The third fall came when Ziggler got DQ’d after Drew McIntyre viciously attacked Rollins. After the DQ, and after be ejected from ringside, Drew hit the Claymore kick on Seth. Did this result in another DQ, as it should have? Nope, Ziggler just crawled over and got his first fall and within a minute and a half it was tied up again at 3-3. Ziggler eventually went up 4-3, then Rollins tied it again at 4-4. Rollins was in the pin to win the match when time expired. This meant a draw, but of course Kurt Angle restarted the match with sudden death. Seth got distracted by Drew and was pinned following a ZigZag about 10 seconds into overtime.
This was just a bad event, booking wise and even the majority of the matches were just meh. There’s no excuse for shows to be this bad. And the sad thing is, McMahon and his creative time’s complete mediocrity has been rewarded with two insane television deals which means this kind of pitiful product isn’t likely to change anytime soon.
If you missed it, consider yourself lucky.