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No Punches Pulled: Extreme Rules 2016 Review

May 23, 2016 | Posted by Eric Presti
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No Punches Pulled: Extreme Rules 2016 Review  

No Punches Pulled is a hard-hitting, no B.S., call-it-right-down-the-middle, review column dedicated to delivering unbiased thoughts and criticisms from the world of WWE to readers everywhere. Just because professional wrestlers pull their punches, doesn’t mean we have to pull ours.

WWE Extreme Rules takes place from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey in front of a crowd of 15,963.

Pre Show: Dolph Ziggler vs Baron Corbin in a No DQ Match

Atmosphere: Second PPV in a row with these two on the pre show. Still not much of a feel in this match as the two just had a singles match recently on Raw and another at Payback and there is ultimately no story behind any of it. The crowd wasn’t really all there for the most part until the low blow on Ziggler, to which everyone booed.

Finish: Baron Corbin hits a low blow on Ziggler and lands End of Days to pick up the win.

PJ: These two are weird together for me. You’d think they’d have more chemistry being that they’ve worked together a bunch now and that one is known for impact offense and they other is known for his selling, but they just can’t seem to pull it together for anything more than a “respectable showing.” Between this and his match with Dempsey, Corbin is becoming the master of the No DQ match where nothing of interest happens. I mean I get not overdoing it with the weapons being that later in the night they were featured heavily, but a stipulation just for a bag shot? Eh. It will be interesting to see if Corbin moves up on the card at all after effectively winning this feud.

Eric: Definitely better than their first match, in my opinion, but as PJ stated, why the stipulation just (quoting Mauro Ranallo) “to pulverize his plums and fruit basket”? Corbin is a heel. He doesn’t need a no DQ stipulation to land a bag shot, especially on Ziggler. The guy hasn’t had a real solid win in months, so what is so threatening that a larger, stronger opponent would need to whack his sack? Not to mention Corbin’s high impact offense should be convincing enough to put Ziggler away. Anyway, it was an all right match, but nothing to write home about, which is what I fear is the fate of all of Corbin’s matches. Hopefully I’m wrong.

Rating: 2 Stars

The Usos vs The Club in a Texas Tornado Match

Atmosphere: The crowd was pretty hot for this one, albeit not with the reactions that WWE probably has intended. Reigns is rubbing off on his cousins as they got the biggest heel reactions of their career here and Gallows and Anderson were decidedly over here. Crowd stayed hot even with the weird dynamic of no tags here, as they had to build anticipation by one of the team members being rendered immobile on the outside, before they came back into play during a key moment. Kind of predictable, but the Crowd liked it though, especially the result.

Finish: The Club executes Magic Killer on Jimmy to pick up the win.

PJ: Tornado Tags have been used very scarcely in modern WWE, in the traditional sense at least. This was done pretty well. It truly felt like a clash of two styles (in a good sense) between the Japanese strong-style, stiff impact moves of the Club, and the more rehearsed spotty nature of the Uso’s. Although some of the false finishes were predictable, I enjoyed the structure of this match and it contained a lot more psychology than I would have thought going in. I just feel like Gallows and Anderson are in a precarious spot. Where do they go from here? This all felt like an opportunity for Gallows and Anderson to get one up on the Uso’s before getting what was coming to them later on in the night. It felt like the sole purpose of this match existing, which took something away from it for me.

Eric: Its been a long time since I’ve seen a Tornado Tag match. This one was decent. Some great, high-impact offense from both sides. The huge superkicks from the Usos and the Boot of Doom on the apron from The Club really set it off. I have to say though; I hope this is the end of their feud. I really want to see the club move on and do something bigger than the Usos. I was hoping they would unite with a debuting Finn Balor and turn on Styles, but obviously that didn’t happen. They are just so limited right now with booking. Hopefully with the soon-returning Wyatts can set something up with them. Retuning to the actual match, I like what Anderson can do in the ring. Gallows on the other hand is weird. He is about double the size of the Usos, but gets his ass kicked every time they are in the ring. This match just felt like “they need a win to stay relevant, so lets give it to them”.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Kalisto (c) vs Rusev for the WWE United States Championship

Atmosphere: Pretty split crowd here as the kids seem to like Kalisto but everyone else seems to like Rusev. This felt like a long squash match, so when you consider that, this crowd elevated it slightly. Kalisto experiment appears to be over for now, as Rusev unseats him handily with a gnarly version of the accolade.

Finish: Rusev nearly breaks Kalisto’s back with the Accolade to secure the title. WINNER and NEW WWE United States Champion, Rusev.

PJ: I’m glad Rusev won here, and Kalisto can go back to the tag team division where I think he is best served. It’s not that I don’t like him; I just don’t think he was bringing anything to the title, and I think his feuds were half baked at best. In the ring, he is a great performer and I hope him and Sin Cara can find their way back into the tag division. As for the match, it was the third straight of the card that felt a little one sided, as I felt like Kalisto didn’t get nearly as much offense as he did against Ryback. Nothing noteworthy really took place here although I was a fan of that super Accolade Rusev put on here, looked like he was breaking Kalisto in half. Here’s to hoping Rusev goes on to a more meaningful feud, and he doesn’t get bogged down with too many rematches. I’d be into seeing Crews vs Rusev if they can build Crews up in time.

Eric: This match just solidified my confusion as to why Kalisto even won the US Tile in the first place? When he beat Ryback twice in a row I thought, oh wow, maybe they are building him to be legitimate. Then they went and had him pretty much count lights for Rusev. I’m happy the title is back on Rusev (he was the start of the building of the US Title), I just don’t understand where Kalisto goes from here or what the WWE was planning for him when they decided to have him beat Del Rio. Either way, the match wasn’t great. Very one sided and Kalisto was a bit sloppy. The crowd was behind both guys with dueling chants. I just hope Rusev can restore some prestige to the US title after it has been cleaning up the pre show since Mania.

Rating: 1.5 Stars

The New Day (c) vs The Vaudevillians for the WWE World Tag Team Championship

Atmosphere: The New Day continute to be one of if not the most over act in the company. Sort of by virtue of default, the Vaudevillains have heat here, although it does seem as though people aren’t buying into them as legit challengers yet. Pretty give and take especially compared to the earlier matches of the night here, as the Vaudevillains actually had a great false finish here that fooled the crowd after they hit Woods with the Whirling Dirvish. This was a good deal of fun and I enjoyed seeing a slight nod to heel New Day with Kofi interfering.

Finish: Kofi kicks Gotch in the face while the ref is turned away and Woods nails the Shining Wizard to retain the titles. WINNERS and STILL WWE World Tag Team Champions, The New Day.

PJ: I liked this more than others have seemed to. It was the jumping off point to this feud, to which I believe the goal is, to make the Vaudevillains into a certifiable heel threat in this company, if not the champions. With that being said, I’m not sure how I feel about them yet, particularly Gotch. He doesn’t seem to have his mannerisms or timing down for my taste at least. The New Day sort of look like they’re in a different league right now, but hey, they should use that spot to help bring other up, so I am definitely interesting in how they play their next move. The in-ring was good. Surprised not to see Kofi in there but for once Cole was right on commentary, Woods is very underrated in the ring. Big E is going to separate a shoulder doing that apron spear one day, but he impresses me more and more every time I see him. It’ll take quite a bit to make the Vaudevillains, but I think the New Day can do it.

Eric: I’ve thought since the start of the tag team tournament that this was all just a way to make the Vaudevillians a relevant team. Enzo & Cass stepped on the scene met with open arms, but the WWE Universe just wasn’t (and still isn’t) quite sure how to take English & Gotch. Their gimmick, albeit pretty rad, doesn’t quite resonate with the younger WWE fan base. I predicted them to win the tournament over Enzo & Cass, reports say that is how it was supposed to go before Enzo died, and then lose to New Day, since having them win the titles as an unproven team over arguably the most loved tag team in recent history, would certainly bury them. The New Day was great as always (nice to see XW mix it up every so often) and the Vaudevillians weren’t bad either. Simon Gotch seems to be the weaker link of the two as English is a better wrestler and is far better on the mic (its all that Guerrero Blood from Eddie’s daughter). This match seemed to do a solid job at elevating the Vaudevillians, but they certainly have a ways to go. These two clearly looked as if they had never mixed it up before, so once some chemistry develops, maybe we can see some solid matches.

Rating: 2.75 Stars

The Miz (c) vs Kevin Owens vs Cesaro vs Sami Zayn for The WWE Intercontinental Championship

Atmosphere: An interesting feel to this match. Everyone may have been divided by who they wanted to win, but were all unified by not wanting Miz to retain. Opening the match with the Helluva Kick to Owens really got the crowd popping early and the match picked up greatly from there. False finish galore and every one of them gave the feel the match was over, so you were really on the edge of your seat the whole match. Everyone had their predictions coming in, but you’d be lying if at one point or another you didn’t doubt it.

Finish: Sami Zayn hits the Helluva kick on Cesaro, but was subsequently pulled out the ring by Owens. Zany and Owens went at it on the outside while Miz snuck in the ring to pin the fallen Cesaro for the victory. WINNER and STILL WWE Intercontinental Champion, The Miz.

PJ: What a war. I loved this match. The Miz stealing the match was the result I pictured going in, but they teased it and flanked it so much throughout the match, that the finish became completely unpredictable. Literally every guy in the match had at least one BELIEVABLE false finish. Cesaro’s strength and speed is like made for these multiman matches. I know the Miz isn’t exactly the IWC’s favorite son or anything but I’d like to give him some props here. Sure he isn’t the worker the other three men are but his character gave this match dynamic. “Anyone but Miz” became the trope between my girlfriend and I as we watched, and that is exactly the dynamic the match needed to be sent over the top. He is a damn good foil. I thought Zayn looked good here, like he belonged. He has been doing a decent amount of jobbing since making the jump to the main roster but from the first Helluva Kick at the start of the match, to the heart stopping one at the end, he looked like a star. This was booked great, with everyone’s strengths showing, and weaknesses hid, and I hope we get a Four Corners Elimination match because this feud shouldn’t end.

Eric: Match of the night by far and a for-sure MOTY candidate. Coming into this match I was pretty pumped. I really like all these guys and watching them mix it up together was definitely a site to see. The mixing of the two feuds was great and it really added to the match, especially at the end where Zayn was more concerned with punishing Owens than he was winning the match, allowing Miz to retain. This certainly sets up another singles match between Owens and Zayn and the best part about it is that the feud was rekindled organically. This wasn’t your typical “Well even though I lost, I’m still going to attack you and we are going to fight again” rekindling. Owens beat Zayn and that was the end of it, but both guys being in the same match fighting for a reason aside from their feud, set the stage for something far from the normal contrived feuds we are used to seeing. Having Miz retain was a great choice here as him and Maryse have done wonders to further elevate the title and it even has Miz looking like a legitimate star again. Please don’t sleep on this killer mid-card right now, as come Summerslam, things are only going to elevate huge.

Rating: 4.25 Stars

Dean Ambrose vs Chris Jericho in an Asylum Match

Atmosphere: These two have quite the backstory coming into this match with the cancellation of the Highlight Reel for the Ambrose Asylum and then vice versa, the destruction of Mitch along with Jericho’s $15,000 Jacket, and finally Jericho putting Ambrose in a straight jacket. On the last Raw before Extreme Rules, the introduction of the Asylum match was a bit interesting, but fitting, given magnitude these two have grown to dislike each other. The crowd was very much behind Ambrose and the anticipation surrounding the climbing of the cage to grab a new weapon made this one fun to watch.

Finish: Dean Ambrose slammed Jericho in a bed of thumbtacks and then hit Dirty Deeds for the win.

PJ: This match became too focused on the weapons above the ring as opposed to, you know, the actual wrestling. But, even though it started out a little slow, it became the most picturesque match involving weapons that we’ve seen since Edge was in the company at least. (BTW, Id kill to see Edge and Ambrose tangle). I never in a million years thought we’d see the barbed wire being legitimately used especially after they shied away from it at Mania, let alone the Thumbtacks! They look even more brutal in HD and props to 45-year-old Chris Jericho for taking them unprotected. Another decisive, solid, victory on Pay Per View for Ambrose too. Haven’t said that much in his career. So it’s interesting to note where he goes next. The main event scene appears set (more on that later) yet there aren’t many stoned left unturned for him above the spot on the card where he currently resides. Ironically, I think the tacks, known as a bloody, dangerous spot on the Indy scene, is what gave this match the psychology, and brutality that it sorely needed. At first this was a match where all the psychology lay on the weapons overhead, that the performers aren’t even allowed to be used to their fullest. You nearly kill yourself climbing a cage fending off a hated rival to grab a mop and you can’t even hit him in the head or face. So when the tacks came into play there was finally something more sinister at stake. Shows that when things are used sparingly they can really add something to a feud or a match.

Eric: I’m usually not a fan of these one-time-only gimmick matches, but this one was actually pretty solid. These two actually did a really good job building up a feud and giving it a real-fight feel that was, at its core, only about a plant and a jacket. The match was heavily reliant on weapons, which is a shame since these two have the ability to tear the house down without them. That being said, it was still entertaining to see the dynamic of the cage match change from trying to escape to trying to grab another weapon. Psychology was a bit iffy, especially due to the heavy reliance on weapons, but once the tacks came out, there was definitely a shift in that. The match became more about building up to the thumbtack spot and gave it some psychology. This worked wonders as the build to the spot was successful and the crowd popped huge once Jericho landed on them. Ultimately an interesting match that played its part, but I sincerely hope that this doesn’t become Ambrose’s signature match and we have to see it once a year. This was the best Asylum match there could have been, so having another one with someone else would just be a waste.

Rating: 3 Stars

Charlotte (c) vs Natalya in a Submission Match for the WWE Women’s Championship

Atmosphere: This match had a lot of hype coming in especially with the banning of Ric Flair from ringside and the fact it was a submission match. Since both women utilize submission maneuvers as their signatures, watching them go back and forth to work each other over to set up for it was fun. Crowd was mostly in it for Natalya and without, what has been the Champ’s secret weapon, Ric Flair watching over Charlotte, the outcome felt more uncertain and kept the crowd interested.

Finish: After a distraction from Dana Brooke dressed like Ric Flair, Charlotte was able to lock in the Figure 8 for the submission victory. WINNNER and STILL WWE Women’s Champion, Charlotte.

PJ: I’m going to echo more of what I said from last month. Solid match. Good psychology. Decent heat. Don’t get me wrong. But why do we keep throwing in finishes that make absolutely no sense, just to keep the title on Charlotte? If you have to resort to finishes MULTIPLE times that need to be explained on Raw the following night, then you’re booking lazily. I mean seriously, is Vinnie Ru behind all of this? Dana Brooke, without Emma apparently has a new friend. It makes no sense on so many levels. Why would you side with the champion? Isn’t that the prize in which you’d covet? Heel or face, the one person I’d remain juxtaposed with is the champ. Not to mention she dresses like Ric Flair, comes out EXACTLY the moment in which Charlotte is about to tap (why not come out earlier?) and for some reason Nattie releases the hold and allows herself to be distracted. I love suspending my disbelief. Wrestling takes me out of the pressures and stresses of life, and I love to believe. So when I begin to question things, you know it has gone south. The celebration at the end was cringe worthy too by the way. Trying to focus on the positives, the limb work setting up for the submissions was there, believability was there, and the crowd was fairly into this. It had all the makings for a solid championship bout. I could do without all of Charlottes audible noises and Nattie screaming “NO” unprovoked about 40 times, but that’s all nitpicking compared to the shite finish. Boo.

Eric: There isn’t much else to say that PJ hasn’t already covered for this match, but I do have one thing to add. Dana Brooke was brought up with Emma to fill the void left by Naomi and Tamina’s injuries. Emma got injured about a week ago, leaving Dana Brooke sort of high and dry. Now she appears in this match and costs Natalya the title to join forces with Charlotte. My question is: What if Emma didn’t’ get hurt? What was the original planned ending for this match? The fact that they resorted to using Dana Brooke in this spot last minute clearly indicates that what they originally had planned was far worse. Why? I find it laughable that the WWE seriously thinks they have a good Women’s Division. I don’t care about the quality of your wrestlers, Sasha, Becky, Nattie, and all are extremely talented, but this whole division wasn’t even started on a revolutionary match. It was started on a Ric Flair interference to give Charlotte the first WWE Women’s title reign and that, in my opinion, makes this “new era” no different that before all these new Diva’s were called up. Now fast forward and WWE is putting Diva’s matches as the co-main event on PPVs and they STILL can’t seem to move away from these interferences. The actual match itself was pretty good (a three in our opinion), but the ending is just so bad.

Rating: 2.75 Stars

Roman Reigns (c) vs AJ Styles in an Extreme Rules Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Atmosphere: Crowd is LIVE for this one wow. Roman hasn’t gotten this much heat in a while, and at the same time I think this is the most over AJ has been since he’s arrived making this a perfect storm (or very imperfect if you’re Roman) of reactions in Newark New Jersey. Even after hitting some impressive spots including a crazy back body drop from table to table, and a froot sitout Razors Edge, the crowd dumps on him with “You still suck!” chants. Massive heat, which he plays to with his smile and shrugging to his credit. Crowd pops big for Club interference and more deriding of the Uso’s. Anticipation mounts as AJ Styles pounds away at the cousins with a steel chair, the crowd holding out hope that a victory could be in sight. However their balloon was popped as Roman hits a mid air spear and retains.

Finish: After taking two Styles Clashes and a flurry of chair shots, Styles attempts for Phenomenal Forearm to which Reigns gets up and hits the Spear for the victory. WINNER and STILL WWE World Heavyweight Champions, Roman Reigns.

PJ: Intense match. Crazy, crazy bumping by AJ that would make even Dolph jealous. Just going out of his way to make spots look more realistic and dangerous, to behoove Roman. Of course it did nothing for him in the eyes of the crowd, as they took a steamy deuce on everything he did. Now I have been a Roman supporter from the start as I don’t think he gets a fair shake. But him being absolutely carried by AJ in overbooked (albeit great) matches isn’t going to get him to where Vince wants. It’ll do the opposite. Just book him like a full-blown heel. Tweener bullshit is too overplayed. Even Stephanie is a goddamn tweener right now. All the interference made this look like a RAW ending, and it undermined the victory the club got at the start of the show, but they did a nice job mounting anticipation for a result that was basically a foregone conclusion before the show even started. Crossfit Jesus, Seth Rollins made his long awaited return after the match, and boy was he a sight for sore eyes. The Man is back!! I wish they would give him a move besides the pedigree but who cares. He returns logically to reclaim the prize he never lost, and with that, AJ’s main event push seems to be over. Hopefully he can win the MITB and stay relevant or else I don’t know what is next for him and the club.

Eric: Welcome back Seth Rollins. You were deeply missed by all of us in the WWE Universe. This match was action packed, as expected, but the lack of psychology in the endings and the massive overbooking of Reign’s matches are never going to make the crowd like him. The ending of this match is the exact reason fans hate John Cena. Reign’s takes two Styles Clashes, a million chair shots and still finds a way to Spear Styles midair and win. Some how a brutal beat down can’t subdue the champ, but one Spear to Styles takes him out. What a joke. Aside from that, the rest of the match was solid. I enjoyed the brawling in the crowd and involving the pre-show stage was something cool that we haven’t seen before. AJ Styles seems to do all he can to make a match even just a tiny bit better, including taking that nasty bump through the announce table. His selling is incredible. I really expected Finn Balor to debut here or The Club to turn on Styles, but the return of Seth Rollins greatly made up for that. I’m excited to see where he stands on RAW and what his character will be.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

The final score: review Good
The 411
Interesting show. Good show. Started out a little slow, picked up the pace and finished really solid with some star power returning. Much better booked than Payback (women’s match aside) had a more logical pace, but maybe wasn’t as good in ring. This fatal 4 way is a Match of the Year candidate for me, and AJ and Roman seemed to have concluded their series, which was fairly epic. Add in to that some logical booking for a change, a memorable weapons brawl, and the start to a potentially good tag team feud, this event had to be considered a success. ROLLINS IS BACK!