Prediction: This will be the final iteration of this particular PPV. That title, for one, is dated (though not as much as this show's humor). Nor does its namesake stipulation really lord its influence over the card. Now that I've laid that gauntlet, let's get down to business, because there were goings-on aplenty in Newark last night.
With one spectacular exception (more on that in a bit), the outcomes were far from shocking. In one instance (more on that even a little bit later on), the action was unsurprisingly, utterly inane. And finally, the affair signed off with one rousing return off the rehabilitation ranks.
But before I keep babbling until my summer session at Camp WWE commences, here are the five key things (in addition to the usual accompaniment of Twitter-friendly sidebar fodder) I took away from the 2016 installment of Extreme Rules.
5. Gallows and Anderson's Window
The climactic sequences of that tag-title bout were a bit cockamamie, and the opening tornado-rules contest was ho-hum, but now the pieces are somewhat in place (pending the Usos' persistence) for what makes the most sense: humorless Gallows and Anderson working their way toward a testy feud with class clowns New Day, hopefully culminating in a swap of the titles at SummerSlam. And by that time, for better or worse, we can probably count on a well-timed reunion of a certain concussed extrovert with his far-from-SAWFT partner. Sigh.
4. That Was…Perfect
The Fatal 4-Way for Miz's Intercontinental Championship, that is. Admittedly, I backpedaled a bit last week off my initial – and, as it turns out, dead-on – prescription for this match's success. But that's because I'm a wuss. Fortunately, none of the men involved in this melee could be accused of as much. Nor could anyone argue that the path to Miz retaining his title was paved with anything less than everyone's best. Everything worked – the big spots and sneaky reversals; the outside interference and in-ring attrition; the palpable desperation and unspoken urgency, both adding value to the hardware being vied for; and most impressively, the multitude of near-falls and clever finish. The Miz looked strong, Cesaro will – a la Gallows and Anderson – get his gold soon enough, and Kevin Owens and Zayn just went nuclear. Missions accomplished.
3. Asylum Reeker
That's about as good as the wordplay gets for a bona fide stinker. You could infer Chris Jericho's mixed emotions the past week as he did his level best to boost enthusiasm for the prop-comedy disaster that was to be his and Dean Ambrose's Asylum Match. And boy was it bad. The ongoing curiosity of WWE's insistence on shading Ambrose as more goofy than gritty continues to bemuse. (His supposed sadism harkens more to a – if I can invoke the equally over-the-top Vaudevillains – bygone era of slapstick than modern extreme.) Dean, to no one's surprise, scored the redemptive win, but it was Jericho, tacks and all, who rescued this clunker from meaninglessness by giving it his unquestioned all.
2. By Brooke Or By Crook
Eh. That Women's Championship clash could have concluded in any number of sensible and satisfying ways, even if they each invariably pointed toward a Charlotte win. But another arbitrary shift in allegiances rings pretty hollow, especially when it's a transparent, last-minute repositioning of Dana Brooke after her partner in crime, Emma, went down with an injury. Though, frankly, if it's a way of keeping Natalya in the mix – rather than relegating her back to irrelevance after helping carry the post-WrestleMania malaise – I'm all for it. But for the second straight PPV, it was a bizarre, forced finish between these two that hinged entirely too much on papa Flair's formidable involvement when, as we all know, they can stage a wrestling match worth reflecting on without smoke and mirrors.
1. Seth = Green
Print that money, WWE, because your two-toned marquee man is back. Not to mention, a number of needs were addressed over the course of Roman Reigns' win over A.J. Styles and its aftermath. Styles, more than any other latter-career migrant to Vince McMahon's big top, has expeditiously qualified himself as a main-eventer; Reigns executed an iconic, haters-be-damned flying spear; and the torch of Heavyweight was cannily passed from super-sub A.J. to present- and future-stud Seth Rollins. I'd be remiss not to concede that confusion over whom to root for muddied the moment somewhat, but I've got more than a feeling that Rollins will clarify whether he's motivated by smark nation's cheers (my guess: probably not) come Raw later tonight. Till then, there's only one thing left to relay.
Below the Belt:
- Usos vs. Gallows/Anderson could have been preshow endeavored.
- The Vaudevillains = worst gimmick ever.
- Then again, that's what we all said about New Day.
- Woods kicking out of Whirling Dervish puts a major dent in Vaudevillain cred.
- Styles' skills are world-class, but those backstage bits are TNA.
- Still wish Zayn's character were a bit cooler.
- Cesaro may have been a carnival star in his past life.
- Though I'm over the whole orgiastic top-turnbuckle powerbomb bit.
- Is Corey Graves really the "savior of misbehavior"?
- Yes, JBL, the first cage match was in 1937, but there was also a major defection from the League of Nations.
- If needing Charlotte to act on cue, repeatedly smack her thigh – noted.
- Jeez, Natalya – way to just walk her back to the ropes.
- Boot of Doom > Magic Killer
- This business of TV viewers being on an ostensible delay relative to the live crowd during spectacular run-ins and entrances is bad news.
- Interesting to see where John Cena fits in next week. (Ahem, Rusev.)
- Move of the Night: Rusev's modified Accolade is pretty wicked. But damn, did A.J. Styles take some Hall of Fame bumps.
- Line of the Night: I actually did a spit take at JBL calling Ambrose the "Energizer dummy." Slow night.
- Sign of the Night: I think these guys would approve of the "Extreme Bachelorette Party."