“Extreme Rules” is tomorrow kiddos. And boy howdy am I excited! Actually? I’m not really. I’m not not excited. After a week of ups and downs (sorry, Simon at WhatCulture!), I wound up feeling like both RAW and Smackdown had one PPV quality match each on their cards, surround by “go home” chum. Let’s unpack the week with six observations I pulled out from Kane’s Pyro. Don’t worry, Daniel Bryan set them off for me.
1. No, in fact, I don’t believe Roman Reigns or Bobby Lashley are more powerful than a dozen men each.
Vince McMahon sure loves him a pull-apart, don’t he? Well, forgive me for losing my inner child here… but seeing nearly an entire locker room fail to separate Rogain Johnson from Black Lesnar 18 times didn’t make me feel the animosity I guess the creative department was going for. But can you blame me? This feud started over Roman crying about the title being rightfully his, and Bobby saying (blandly) that he could beat Brock. Follow this up by what felt like 20 “one upsmanship” tag team bouts with the Revival (who I pray to Rao get a title shot after the PPV) and finally Reigns and Lashley lay hands on one another.
And while I certainly prefer build ups to matches that prevent those in the bout from giving away the PPV match on TV… here, neither Joe Uso nor Alopecia Jones sold me on their animosity really.
2. In spite of posting the lowest ratings in RAW history, Rollins vs. McIntyre was a PPV quality match.
Counter to the ice cold opening segment of RAW this week, the main event was a bell to bell gift from the wrestling gods. While we did stick to traditional WWE tropes – multiple hope spots, cut offs, and false finishes enough to choke a bull named Ferdinand – the match elevated the normal to the superlative through a consistent build of story. Drew McIntyre truly is a new wrestler. He’s vicious, to-the-point, and clearly has a doctorate on cut-offs (in ring, not jorts!). Paired off with this generation’s Shawn Michaels (in terms of workrate), I felt at times like I watch watching what a Diesel vs. the Heart Break Kid could have been. And I think that about sums it up, right?
3. Is someone else under the Sin Cara mask, or does Hunico finally care?
Over on Smackdown, HuniCara wrestled like his career depended on it, in a spectacular match with Adradadade Cien Almas Blanco Negra Tranquiloso. With authentico lucha flavor added into their bout, I did several double takes as I’d largely anticipated a No-Way-Jose-style beatdown, and got instead a competitive match. One, I might add, helps lay in some groundwork for Andrade’s push while also elevating Sin Cara due to his work in the match. And hey! Minimal to no botches!
4. Why do I appreciate Sanity’s ring gear, but still laugh at the Bludgeon Brothers getup?
Oh! I know why. Because sAnItY’s ring gear looks pieced together, but still of wrestling. These are nearly-psychotic heels, and their gear reflects it without feeling overly gimmicked. I would denote Alexander Wolfe’s wearing of a brace over his singlet top does make him look like an angry dock worker… but he pulls it off well. Take that versus Rowan and Harper’s “sneeze in a Hot Topic” look, and you see the dissonance. Given their prior ring gear (dirty mechanics?), I do appreciate their unified look… But can’t look past the “JNCO cargos put through the Vomitorium” pants paired with the matching color wife beaters, topped off with their “Steampunk by way of Party City’s Horror Section” masks and “If they’re real, then they really look fake” mallets.
5. If Bobby Roode doesn’t turn heel soon, he might as well re-debut on the Impact Zone.
The man could be a GLORIOUS heel. Instead, his smile is somehow faker than Finn Balors, and I hate every minute he’s not sneering. Is it too late to fantasy book “Balor Club” as being a Shield-style legit faction? I think Roode / Balor / Baldie (small) / Baldie (Festus) could be a monster stable that could protect a more heelish Roode. But hey, what do I know.
6. I probably should mention at least something about the angles running with the women.
But instead, I’ll just post my predictions for “Extreme Rules”, which contains matches with women in it, so that counts:
* Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Nia Jax, Extreme Rules match for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship
— Alexa heels her way into retaining.
* AJ Styles (c) vs. Rusev Singles match for the WWE Championship
— As much as I’d kill for an upset… AJ Styles will cancel Rusev Day festivities in a match that will fight for best on the card.
* Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt (c) vs. The B-Team (Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel), Tag team match for the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship — See my note above, minus the whole “best on the card” stuff. Look for a by-the-bones match that sees the Champions retain.
* Carmella (c) vs. Asuka, Singles match for the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship, with James Ellsworth will be suspended above the ring in a shark cage — My heart says Asuka. My head says you don’t put the Chinless Wonder in a shark cage for him not to interfere.
* The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper and Rowan) (c) vs. Team Hell No (Daniel Bryan and Kane),
Tag team match for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship — Let’s say I just hope the nostalgia act is over with. While I’d love gold around DB’s waist… Not like that, pretty please.
* Dolph Ziggler (c) (with Drew McIntyre) vs. Seth Rollins — Here’s your other match of the night candidate. Hard to see Seth score it back after dropping it… unless Drew goes Rogue. My money is on Ziggles retaining.
* Roman Reigns vs. Bobby Lashley — Who. Cares. OK, seriously though. Oh, I have to choose? Reigns. It’s never going to be Lashley. Ever.
* Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura — This may be the sleeper of the night. Look for Shinsuke to finally claim gold too
* Finn Bálor vs. Baron Corbin —Vests. Vests win.
* Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens — No one wins. This is a waste of both men’s time. Braun needs to stay hot while having the MITB contract. Kevin needs to not be the butt of jokes anymore.
* The New Day (Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods) vs. Sanity (Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain) — Man, come to think of it, this will be a sick show! I’m predicting New Day does the favors for sAnItY, as they can get their heat back without a problem.
See everyone next week… when I hope Kane continues to recite *NYSNC lyrics seriously as possible.