Extreme Rules 2017 is in the books, and I can say for absolute certainty that this has been the best Raw PPV – despite one or two speedbumps – since the brand split. A fantastic main event and excellent mid-card championship matches made for an exciting and well-balanced evening. As this show had a limited card, I’ve cut down to only 3 Best Things and 3 Worst Things. Now, let’s take a closer looks at Extreme Rules 2017.
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Sticking With A Theme
For a pay-per-view named Extreme Rules, this could have been one of the least extreme events I have ever seen. The PG era has restricted truly hardcore content for some time, but two of these matches had specifically non-extreme stipulations in Ambrose vs. Miz and Neville vs. Aries. I cannot stand gimmick shows to begin with, but this event has been the proverbial last straw. If you won’t deliver on a promise (and haven’t for several years), stop making the promise.
Alexa Bliss vs. Bayley
I’m not exactly sure what to say about this match. It was more of a merciless beatdown with a ridiculous story interwoven concerning Bayley’s willingness to employ a kendo stick. I would have killed to see Bayley grab the cane and mercilessly beat Alexa to a pulp. Instead, we got Bayley acting like a five-year-old who couldn’t bring herself to beat up her opponent (which is her daily job) with an implement that is only slightly more extreme than a ringpost.
Bayley has been unceremoniously neutered as a viable character. This could be good for building her back up from the ground as a top talent; but in the shadow of her WrestleMania victory, this is terribly unnecessary and a worthless retreat for the character. Very bad match, very bad for Bayley.
Intergender Tag Match
This match wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination; I actually think Rich Swann did a fantastic job (as per usual). The problem I do have with the evening’s contest between the teams of Swann & Banks and Fox & Dar is that it did nothing to move the needle. I did not care at all about the feud going in and I do not care at all about the feud at this present time. The faces won, in a fairly dominant fashion, with nothing to contribute to the overall story. Not disappointing, just extraordinarily meh.
The Main Event
This was absolutely magnificent! A truly impressive main event match with only the #1 Contendership on the line, showcasing the top singles talents Raw has to offer. Almost everything about this match was pitch-perfect, from Joe and Bray forging an alliance to Seth Rollins proving how far he’s willing to go to win to the final false finish and Samoa Joe’s eventual victory.
I am a bit concerned with how the WWE is painting Reigns in reference to some of his rivals, i.e. easily manhandling guys like Finn Balor, but it is important to show the Big Dog as a force to be reckoned with even in defeat. I am absolutely thrilled with the prospect of Joe and Brock meeting down the line, as it has been a dream match of mine for some time. This is a great opportunity to build up Joe as the merciless badass he deserves to be, even though he has a snowball’s chance in hell of beating the Beast Incarnate.
The Hardyz vs. Sheasaro
First things first: while the match and the outcome adhered to the rules that were set forth at the beginning, the rules themselves were ridiculous. Generally speaking, I don’t even enjoy escaping the cage as an actual finish to a cage match. However, beyond that minor quibble, I really enjoyed the match on the whole. Start-to-finish, the Hardyz and Sheasaro hit about every note I could have asked for. Sheasaro looked great as a team, Matt Hardy had a lot of moments to shine on his own, and Jeff did his insane daredevil stuff. Putting the belts on Sheasaro at this time is a bit of a gamble as far as long-term planning goes, but I have grown to trust them as a force on the Raw roster. I’m anxious to see what comes of the Hardyz, especially as far as Matt is concerned. Could we be inching ever closer to the Broken Saga?
The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose
I’m not sure this match did anything wrong. Besides a slightly wonky finish with referee John Cone deciding to walk to the timekeeper’s area to call a DQ but sliding back in the ring to count a pinfall instead, Miz and Ambrose did an excellent job of pushing the pace and exploiting the rules of the match to their advantage in a story-telling context. I thoroughly enjoyed Miz actually attempting to use the finish I discussed last week, but Cone realizing the plan and continuing the match. The Miz taking the title is most likely best for the story going forward, but I’m still a bit sad to see Ambrose’s waist bare.
Though Extreme Rules was closer to your standard WWE event than anything that would have put a twinkle in Paul Heyman circa 1998’s eye, it was not without a lot of great wrestling and storytelling. I was truly wow-ed by the five-way main event, and I hope we get to see a little more of matches like that in the future. Outside of a truly terrible Women’s Championship match, not a single match on the card qualified as a disappointment. This was a big step forward for Raw and hopefully indicative of a great show at…ugh…Great Balls of Fire.