Well, that was quite the ending.
Bray Wyatt returned as The Fiend to drown Braun Strowman in their Swamp Fight to close WWE Extreme Rules 2020. It was yet another cinematic match that won’t be well-received by everyone because it lacked any sense of finality.
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Extreme Rules delivered on its billing as “The Horror Show,” but it wasn’t easily digestible because of so many strange finishes and stipulations. A few matches did overdeliver, including Asuka vs. Sasha Banks and Drew McIntyre vs. Dolph Ziggler. The former ended in controversy that will leave people wondering who the actual champion is, while the latter was a hard-hitting affair that saw McIntyre retain his title in a unique setting.
Unfortunately, Apollo Crews was unable to compete and MVP crowned himself the new United States champion.
Here’s how it all went down.
Bray Wyatt def. Braun Strowman (?)
What the hell was this?
We knew shenanigans were going to be in full force for a Bray Wyatt cinematic match with Braun Strowman, but these cinematic matches are becoming more and more difficult to digest.
A return of the old Bray Wyatt was welcome, but then we dived into the ridiculous with snake bites, random attackers getting set on fire and playing off Braun’s infatuation with a demonic version of Alexa Bliss. Things just got more and more silly to the point where if you rolled your eyes at everything you would fall asleep.
The false finish was well-executed, though, with Braun thinking he finished Bray by kicking him into the swamp, but then The Fiend returned and drowned Wyatt. That’s how Extreme Rules ended.
Drew McIntyre def. Dolph Ziggler (WWE championship)
Nobody ever thought Ziggler would beat McIntyre considering that Ziggler did nothing to earn a title shot, but the fact that Ziggler gave himself Extreme Rules while limiting the WWE champion to regular match rules made this entertaining. As always, McIntyre impressed with his power and finesse while Ziggler sold everything his opponent had like a million bucks.
Ziggler refused to go away and used everything to his advantage. Tables and chairs were used to try to take down the reigning champion, but McIntyre would shrug off his opponent’s offense and go back to throttling Ziggler with power moves.
McIntyre’s WWE run has been well-booked and he continues to entertain; Ziggler again proved why he is one of the better hands on the roster.
A kip up into a Claymore was brilliantly executed and finished off Ziggler in a great match.
Sasha Banks def. Asuka (?) (‘Raw’ women’s championship)
Before the clunky finish, Banks and Asuka delivered a Match of the Year contender.
It’s difficult to put into words just how good Banks is at telling stories with her body and expressions, but this match was a perfect example. It must also be noted that Banks’ work as a heel is phenomenal. Whether it be her in-ring banter or vicious move set, it all works, not to mention that she bumps like a maniac.
Not to be overshadowed, Asuka has transitioned finely into a babyface from the killer she was in NXT. She worked brilliantly from underneath as Sasha combined limb work and vicious strikes to set a frantic pace that found Asuka constantly searching for a way to rally.
Everything from a perfectly executed frog splash from Sasha to an avalanche codebreaker from Asuka made their way into this bout as these women easily put on one of the best matches of the year.
A muddled finish put a damper on the match, but it also protected both women. Bayley attempted to interfere when Sasha was tapping from the Asuka lock, and that led to Asuka accidentally misting the referee. With the ref out of commission, Bayley inexplicably put on the referee shirt after the title was used to down Asuka and then counted to three.
This certainly won’t go down as a win for Sasha but it extends a great feud.
Seth Rollins def. Rey Mysterio (Eye for an Eye match)
Was there any way this match could have a satisfying finish given the stipulation?
Trying to make sense of how a pair of pliers, a kendo stick and a normal set of wrestling moves would remove an eye just makes your head hurt. Without the Eye for an Eye stipulation, this match would have been a lot easier to digest because the work here was smooth.
There was a beautiful sliding destroyer spot by Mysterio that sent Rollins into the barricade and Rey hitting Rollins with a curb stomp on the outside was a nice touch. It appeared that Mysterio had Rollins when he attempted to put his eye through the edge of the ring steps but a low blow, superkick and curb stomp set up Rollins to finish the job.
And then we went all the way goofy.
Rollins put Rey’s other eye into the stairs. Before he went for a curb stomp, he noticed Mysterio’s (fake) eye was out of the socket. Rollins puked, the match was over. A ridiculous ending to what was a good match.
What do we do with this?
Grade: B (before the finish) DUD (after the finish)
Bayley def. Nikki Cross
Bayley has turned what was a lukewarm heel turn into pure gold. Between her improvements working as a heel and pairing with Sasha, she has been nothing short of excellent. Nikki has always been a strong hand and her showing here was no different. She made sure this match wouldn’t be devoid of action.
There were a few weird moments, such as Nikki hitting a hanging neck breaker on the outside and Bayley somehow beating her back to the ring. Of course, Sasha would end up interfering by handing Bayley her Boss ring. Bayley hit Nikki in the midsection with the ring and finished her with a Rose Plant. A perfectly fine match but the finish was never in doubt.
Nakamura & Cesaro def. The New Day
Tables matches are generally devoid of suspense and deliver an exhausting number of teases. This match was no different.
Both teams worked hard but the stipulation really kept the match from being something special. There wasn’t a ton of drama, but Cesaro powerbombing Kofi through a pair of tables to become champions was a solid finish.
Cesaro, Nakamura, Kofi and Big E are excellent talents who deserve the spotlight, but a tables match for a feud that has been lukewarm at best wasn’t the right move. Ultimately, it wasn’t a bad match; they just worked with what they had.
On another note, The New Day will eventually get the titles back when WWE is tired of Cesaro and Nakamura. I don’t make the rules.