Brawling Brutes vs. Imperium (Donnybrook Match)
This was a great way to open the night and set up the Extreme Rules gimmicks. These guys beat the hell out of each other, went for insane spots, set up good storytelling, and the crowd ate it up. I think it was right to give the Brawling Brutes their win back, but WWE has to be careful not to undervalue Imperium too much.
Final Grade: 6/10 Above Average
Liv Morgan vs. Ronda Rousey (Extreme Rules, SmackDown Women’s Championship)
I think WWE booked themselves into a corner with this one. Liv Morgan earned her way to the top of the mountain, and it felt like WWE just didn’t care to keep her there. Ronda Rousey in kayfabe has been very protected, and even though Morgan has gotten a couple of wins on her, it was just too much here. Rousey made Morgan pass out, which is a consolation prize to maintain Morgan’s never say die attitude. Rousey as champion is uninteresting to me in SmackDown’s Women’s Division.
Final Grade: 5/10 Average
Karrion Kross vs. Drew McIntyre (Strap Match)
Karrion Kross has such a great entrance. Incredibly, he has been so unlikeable since his debut. Despite having the size to go toe to toe with anyone, he has taken every imaginable cheap shot on Drew McIntyre. That was really the only highlight of this match. It was brutal but unmemorable, maybe a jab against the Extreme Rules stipulation of the night because it felt like we had already seen so much violence that this did not stand out. Kross had to win to have validity in WWE, and McIntyre will be fine, but he should get his win back on someone soon due to back-to-back high-profile losses.
Final Grade: 4/10 Below Average
Bianca Belair vs. Bayley (Ladder Match, Raw Women’s Championship)
These two women were at war with the ladders as much as they were with each other in this match. Sometimes, it cannot be helped. The women went for unique psychology in the match and creative spots that led to some brutal looks, like when the ladder did not break during Bayley’s elbow drop to Bianca Belair. Considering all of that, they recovered really well. The finish with the KOD on the Ladder was brutal, and Belair looked great with all the superstrength moves she hit.
Final Grade: 6/10 Above Average
Finn Balor vs. Edge (I Quit Match)
Going into the night, I didn’t know what story they still had to tell. I was skeptical they could get me to care after a long night of wrestling already. Finn Balor had some sick gear that reminded me of Hellraiser. It turned out these two had the most story to tell. The beginning was slow and kind of intentionally slowed down the crowd to get them back into it later. They still took a beating in the first half of the match, which made everything mean more later. Edge had Balor ready to quit in a submission in the second half before the rest of Judgment Day interfered. Rey Mysterio came out to make the save before Judgment Day was just too much to overcome. Rhea Ripley handcuffed Edge to the ropes and set up Edge in a 3v1, where he almost took Judgment Day with one hand before being overwhelmed. It led to interference by Beth Phoenix and set up a showdown between Phoenix and Ripley that got one of the biggest pops of the night. In the end, Phoenix gets Edge out of the handcuffs, and Edge gets his revenge on Dominick Mysterio and tries to submit Balor with the same submission that took Edge out of Judgment Day. In the end, Judgment Day’s numbers game caught up with Edge. Balor hit 3 Coupe de Graces on Edge, and they got him to quit the only way they could- by threatening to hit Phoenix with a con-chair-to and eventually doing so anyway. Ultimately, I was blown away by how much story they told. Edge proved he is the ultimate mastermind in WWE right now. Despite the feud being oversaturated for months, he had the match of the night. Even without still being in Judgment Day, his influence built a successful faction that has launched the careers of Balor, Damian Priest, Rhea Ripley, and now Dominick Mysterio. The only thing keeping this from a perfect grade is that the beginning was SO slow.
Final Grade: 9/10 Amazing
Matt Riddle vs. Seth Rollins (Fight Pit)
In the absence of a Men’s Singles Championship match, this was an interesting choice for main event. I think the Fight Pit match should be used more often. It has the versatility of the elimination chamber in terms of creative moves, and I think it’s better in that regard than the steel cage or hell in a cell because of the stable upper level to perform moves. The no-ropes added an interesting aura to the match, giving the advantage to Matt Riddle’s UFC background over Seth Rollin's highflying moves. Rollins had awesome in-ring gear influenced by RVD. The chemistry between Rollins and Riddle is out of this world, but this match didn’t get the time I thought it would. They hit some crazy moves, namely, the Broton from the top of the fight pit by Riddle onto Rollins. I don’t know how either of them is fully intact after that move. Riddle won by hitting a UFC-style submission on Rollins, and I think it was important for Riddle to get that win back.
Final Grade: 6/10 Above Average
Bray Wyatt Return
I think this deserves its own section because it was so well executed. The White Rabbit teaser went from being something for only live crowds, rumored on Twitter, to more obvious on-screen teases like QR codes on the screen, the white rabbit pixel graphic, and even the white rabbit mascot in the crowd on SmackDown. The cryptic symbolism was everything Bray Wyatt stood for. I think his assumed return kind of held some of the matches earlier in the night hostage. The song was creepy; the crowd's figures were emblematic of every phase in Bray Wyatt’s career, and we all waited anxiously to see what Wyatt would bring next. Wyatt is one of the best creative minds in the industry, and he got the loudest pop of the night to end the night. It told us that we have to see what comes next in WWE.
Reverse Hipster's Review
The Brawling Brutes vs. Imperium, Donnybrook Match 7.7/10 C
This match had a tough task because it didn't have a great story going in. The match had to be exceptional because it had zero story armor to lean on. The match didn't end up being exceptional. It was decent, but it wasn't that different than matches we see on SmackDown like The New Day vs. The Viking Raiders. The Brawling Brutes won, and Sheamus continued to look like he could beat Gunther. So this match did succeed in building up Sheamus for a final confrontation with Gunther.
Liv Morgan vs. Ronda Rousey, WWE SmackDown Women's Title Match 8.4/10 B
Liv Morgan brought it to Ronda. She hit her with baseball bats and chairs, and went airborne to put Ronda through a table. Ronda tore Liv up. She took some wicked bat shots to Liv's ribs, and Ronda tied Liv up and pelted her with a metal bat. Ronda tied Liv up like a pretzel multiple times until Liv had nothing left. The ending of this match was a little clunky, and I think they could have worked in more spectacular spots, but the match achieved its mission. Ronda overpowered Liv and made her pass out, but Liv refused to give up. In the end, when Ronda won, people were back on the side of Liv and back to hating Ronda.
Drew McIntyre vs. Karrion Kross, Strap Match 7/10 C-
I'm not a huge fan of this match. It was just fine. The Strap stipulation didn't really allow these two brutes to reach their full potential of violence. Also, the finish of Scarlett macing Drew, and Karrion getting the victory was stupid. It was meant to protect both guys, but it just made the ending feel flat. Karrion Kross looks super weak for needing Scarlett to save him, and Drew lost again after failing to beat Roman Reigns.
Bianca Belair vs. Bayley, Raw Women's Championship Ladder Match 8/10 B-
The biggest flaw of this match was that it had no flow. It felt like they were just doing things. Each move didn't stack onto the next to tell a story. Bianca had 90% of the great spots. There wasn't one moment in this match when I felt like Bayley would win. Also, Iyo Sky and Dakota Kai should have been way more involved. Taking out three competitors by herself should have been a herculean task for the EST. Instead, Bianca had a momentary setback when Iyo and Kai appeared only to dispatch both of them easily. Ultimately, the final spot was awesome. Bianca delivered a KOD to Bayley while Bayley held a ladder. Plus, the right person won the match. Hopefully, Bayley and Bianca can move on from each other.
Edge vs. Finn Balor, I Quit Match 9.2/10 A
It's hard to grade this match because so much happened. The match was pretty good in the beginning when it was just between Finn and Edge. However, the match really started when Edge got handcuffed to the ring and Judgment Day beat him senseless. Edge refused to give up. Then, Beth Phoenix and Rey Mysterio came out to save Edge. Dominik Mysterio took out Rey. Beth had an epic return, but then was taken out by Rhea Ripley's brass knuckles. Edge was still dominant. He speared Finn over and over, but Judgment Day saved Finn, and then Finn delivered unprotected Coup de Graces after Coup de Graces. Still, Edge didn't quit. However, when Beth was threatened with a Conchairto, Edge quit. However, Judgment Day did it anyway. Judgment Day is a top-heel stable now. They will be the most hated team in WWE. This is precisely what Judgment Day needed.
Matt Riddle vs. Seth Rollins, Fight Pit 8.6/10 B
Riddle and Seth had a very interesting match. It looked like they had difficulty finding a balance between technical wrestling and big spots. I wish they had dedicated more time to technical spots to play up the Fight Pit. I also think WWE struggled to include Daniel Cormier. His spots didn't make much sense, and it was clear they were just trying to work him into the match. However, the match really took off when Riddle and Rollins climbed to the top of the pit. It gave the match a more intense vibe because, at any moment, someone could be thrown down to the mat. We all wanted to see who it would be. It ended up being Riddle jumping off the Fight Pit, back first onto Seth. Shortly after the jump, Riddle surprised Rollins and made him tap. I think Riddle probably should have been more dominant in this match, but I enjoyed it.
Bray Wyatt's Return
Bray Wyatt's return won't be put into my overall grade of the PPV because it's based on matches. However, it was the biggest return of the year. Bray Wyatt should have never been fired from WWE. Wyatt brings an aspect to WWE that can't be replaced. This was our generation's version of The Undertaker resurrecting in the '90s. The pop Bray got when he returned was the biggest pop of the year. Bray is my personal favorite superstar of this generation, and I don't think it's exaggerating to say WWE just took a massive lead against all other wrestling promotions with the return of Bray.
Rob's Final Grade
Extreme Rules continued the argument against gimmick premium live events. The matches were too similar, and it kind of built up a resistance to the violence in later matches. Some of the genuinely dangerous spots didn’t get nearly as much reaction from the crowd as they should have. The match quality and booking were okay, but I do not think it lived up to the hype lately. In my opinion, a lot of this is due to unified championships and limited match card. The night was saved for me by the Edge/Finn Balor match and the reveal of Bray Wyatt at the end. As long as WWE can keep delivering in that regard, I’m good.
Final Grade: 6/10 Above Average
Reverse Hipster's Final Overall Grade 8.1/10 B
The show was kind of up and down. It had one truly great match, a few matches pressing the edge of greatness, and a couple matches that were just decent or okay. However, the PPV also had one moment, the return of Bray Wyatt, that made the whole show worth it.