Welcome to WWE presents The Horror Show at Extreme Rules review.
I am James ‘Jester’ Dee and I will be your host and guide through the madness and carnage that is The Horror Show at Extreme Rules. I hope you like good matches with spurious and confusing endings!
Now let’s kick things off with the aptly named Kickoff Show.
Kevin Owens vs Buddy Murphy
If you haven’t checked out our predictions article then that’s a little rude, we put a lot of work into that! Still I can’t hold it against you too much, you’re here after all, so all is forgiven.
If you did read it you’ll notice that this match wasn’t on it. That’s because it was added just before the show aired. Not really having any idea who to pick for this match, I flipped a coin.
The coin landed on its side, stubbornly refusing to decide either way and confusing everyone in the room…
Oddly prescient 10p pieces aside, the match was a classic kickoff match, good stuff from talented people but aside from a couple of bright spots never really getting out of third gear.
The match hits its stride when Murphy hits a second rope meatora for a close two count and gets Owens up for Superplex. Owens counters this and hits a gorgeous springboard moonsault for another close two.
Owens closes out the match with a superkick into a stunner for the win.
Like I said a, good match that felt like everyone was holding back a little. I can’t blame them for that. You don’t give away your best stuff on the preshow, you use it as a teaser for bigger things. With that, onto the main show!
Tables match for the Smackdown Tag Team titles: New Day vs Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura
In what the Hooked On camp thought had potential to be the match of the night, Kofi Kingston and Big E took on Cesaro & Nakamura (Swing of Strong Style – don’t @ me).
The match was fought under Tornado rules, so all members of each team are involved without the need for tags – this is a good thing, a tables match demands chaos and a sense that anything can happen, this normally happens during a tables match anyway but it’s nice to see WWE formalise it.
That match itself is a constant back and forth with control switching between the two teams and neither team retaining the upper hand for too long. The teams match up perfectly, Big E counters Cesaro’s strength and Kingston counters Nakamura’s agility. Highlights include a huge belly to belly throw by Big E to Cesaro and Kingston taking a faceplant directly into a table without it breaking.
The final sequence has Kingston stack two tables on the outside and try to hurricanrana Cesaro from the top turnbuckle, Nakamura interrupts the attempt and Cesaro counters into a powerbomb driving Kingston through two tables from the top turnbuckle to the outside. Ouch!
Swing of Strong Style takes the victory in a great match to open the show proper. Lots of action and the right team won. It’s always nice to see Cesaro with a championship on his shoulder.
Smackdown Women’s title: Nikki Cross vs Bayley
Bayley and Banks have been low-key the best parts of the Quarantine Era. Bayley’s entitled “Dos Straps” run has been wonderful and she was definitely winning this match. However, how difficult would Nikki Cross make it for her to walk out with her WWE Women’s Smackdown Championship?
Turns out quite hard. Cross brought the fight hard to a champion that clearly underestimated her. Cross rapidly attacked Bayley and didn’t let up, everytime Bayley tried to create separation Nikki was right back on her.
Nikki only let up after Bayley slammed her into the Plexiglass barricade and slowed down the match bigtime. Bayley then traps Nikki in the ring apron and administers a beat down stopping only to gloat to the commentators.
Nikki vanishes and appears on the other side of the ring. Bayley runs across the ring to get her and gets trapped in the ring apron giving Cross control again. A ripcord neckbreaker gives Nikki a two count which concerns Sasha.
The end comes after a ref distraction from Banks during which she passes Bayley one of her Boss rings. Bayley uses it as a set of brass knucks striking Cross and putting her away with the Bayley to Belly.
A great match that shows Cross is a contender and a real talent with charisma to burn in the ring. Bayley looks weasley and cunning and it’ll be good times all round when she finally gets dethroned.
What follows is a vignette from Bray Wyatt in his Funhouse persona dressed as a classic Hammer Horror vampire and acting like the cryptkeeper from Tales from the Crypt – He also mocked the ‘Karaoke Showdown’ from Smackdown a couple of weeks back so basically I’m in love.
This leads into the screwy finish portion of the evening, starting off with…
United States title: Apollo Crews vs MVP
Crews was unable to pass his physical and so MVP declared himself the champion via forfeit.
If WWE can’t be bothered to follow through on an advertised match then I can’t be bothered to analyse it.
At least MVP gets to continue his excellent 2020 run with more braggadocio.
Eye for an Eye Match: Rey Mysterio vs Seth Rollins
I promise eye’ll try to keep the puns to the absolute minimum… dammit.
In perhaps the strangest stipulation of the night, this match could only end with someone’s eye being removed from its socket. Potentially interesting, definitely stupid. We shall see how it that plays out in actuality.
Rollins brings some pliers to the ring with him and is waiting for Rey when Rey jumps him from behind, starting the match off quickly and not slowing until he gets a kendo stick to the skull.
Seth takes control and batters his opponent until Rey counters into a drop toe hold which plants Seth face first onto the corner of the announce table.
At one point Rey even Curbstomps Rollins on the outside and attempts to drive Rollins eye first onto the ring steps, a fitting act of retribution. Rollins then lamps Rey right in the Mysterios causing Rey to buckle over and leaving him open for a curbstomp, after which Seth forces Rey eye first into the ring steps in what is admittedly a pretty uncomfortable image.
The ref declares Seth the winner and unable to reconcile the reality of what he has done compared with the person he believes himself to be, Seth existentially vomits at ringside, by which I mean he vomits at ringside.
Honestly this was a great match that was really hamstrung by the need for a goofy ending that seemed to come out of nowhere and didn’t really deliver on the promised optical dislocation. A straight up hardcore match would’ve been fine but I suppose it’s fun and games until someone loses an eye (damn, I was so close).
Hopefully Seth’s character continues to develop from this point because he is doing great work at the moment.
Raw Women’s championship: Asuka vs Sasha Banks
Easily the best match of the night. Right up until the ending.
Sasha is doing the lord’s work right now. She seems to be unable to have a bad match at the moment, and of course putting her in the ring with some of the best talent in the world doesn’t hurt. Her match with Io Shirai at The Great American Bash was fantastic and this match with Asuka is no different.
The women start the match showing off their technical prowess countering each other’s submission holds move for move. Sasha focuses on her opponent’s arms to try and take away the Asuka-Lock.
A codebreaker to Sasha from the 2nd rope allows Asuka to take control of the match, After a lot of this good old school back and forth asuka manages to lock in her submission leading to Bayley distracting the ref.
This is where’s it gets stupid. Asuka gets up, Bayley dismounts the ring apron and Asuka goes to green mist Sasha, Sasha ducks and the ref takes the full force of the green mist to the face. This proceeds to knock him unconscious and Bayley hits Asuka with the title belt.
She then takes the ref’s shirt off and puts it on, counting Sasha’s pinfall for three and then declaring the match over. She tells the timekeeper to ring the bell and takes the title away with her, giving it to Sasha.
A real damp squib of an ending despite a fantastic match.
WWE World title, Dolph picks the stipulation: Drew McIntyre vs Dolph Ziggler
Just wanted to point out that Dolph has the Pride Flag stitched onto his jacket, and to quote the great Zangief: “just because you are Bad Guy doesn’t mean you are bad guy”. That’s awesome.
What’s more awesome is that Dolph Ziggler is the smartest person to ever pick his own match stipulation. In a rare common sense move for the heel, Ziggler decides to make the match an Extreme Rules match… for Dolph Ziggler only. If McIntyre gets counted out or disqualified in any way then Dolph becomes champion.
I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to hear that. So many times heels get the match choice and pick a match that puts both competitors on more or less equal footing anyway. Ziggler choosing this shows Intelligence and Intensity… if not Integrity.
Despite this, Dolph gets dominated pretty early on and struggles to even get a weapon, an eye rake soon sorts this out and Dolph takes control. This doesn’t last very long and soon Drew is back in control. In a cool moment Drew had to rotate a suplex midair to avoid a table that Dolph had set up.
So much of this match was Dolph getting the upper hand and Drew countering by just being better than Dolph.
The finish is also pretty special with Dolph dropping McIntyre with a uranage onto a chair and tuning up the band for a superkick. Dolph runs across the ring and Drew kicks straight up into the Claymore putting Dolph down for the 1-2-3.
A great finish to a great and smart match.
Drew has been doing some fantastic work since becoming champion and I can’t wait for him to be able to continue his run with full crowds again.
Wyatt Swamp Match: Bray Wyatt vs Braun Strowman
Anyone that knows me and hears me talk about wrestling will confirm that I freaking loved the Firefly Funhouse “match” at Wrestlemania. It had nuance, storytelling, history and character for days.
What it wasn’t, however was a match,. It was more like Cena taking a demented trip through his own pysche and finding out his true nature.
This was the same thing for Strowman. A dive into the mind of the Monster among Men. It gave the Universal champ more character development and had snippets of his history, including a brilliant cameo by Alexa Bliss.
Everything from his origins and early motivations being controlled by Bray to his own insecurities about where he really stands via who he is and what he wants to be. Is he just a wrecking ball to be pointed in a direction to cause chaos, or is he a man trying to find some sort of purpose?
If you didn’t like this segment, I can’t blame you. It’s not really a match, some of it was too dark to really tell what’s going on and someone really needed to turn Braun’s mic down when Bray was speaking. But just like the Funhouse “match”, there is so much to glean from this upon rewatch.
Segments that reward rewatching are a win in my book. If for some reason you are reading this without having seen Extreme Rules then I suggest giving it a watch.
The image of the Fiend emerging from the shadowy depths of the swamp as his haunting laugh fades the show to black is wonderfully silly and haunting at the same time.
All in all this was a great show with some weird booking and janky finishes. It also pushes some storylines but doesn’t really end any of them. There was a lot of quality wrestling and variety. Something for everyone, really.
A solid B+ Show that didn’t feel cluttered and was actually relatively short clocking in at just over 2.5 hours if you don’t include the pre-show.
I could definitely get behind these shorter more focused shows from WWE and save to mega-shows for the Big Four.
A hearty thumbs up from this guy. Check it out.