WWE’s Extreme Rules PPV Sunday featured a lot of big-time match-ups heading into the show, with expectations ranging from low to extremely high. There were 12 matches across the pre-show and main card, with some of the matches performing better than others. Here’s a quick recap of the 10 main card matches, along with some match grades.
The B Team def. Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt (c) to win the Raw Tag Team Championships
The night started with maybe its biggest shock, as Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas defeated Hardy and Wyatt to win the Raw Tag Team Championships. Not many people gave Axel and Dallas a chance heading into the match, especially since the Deleter of Worlds has been really over as a team. Dallas hit a swinging neck breaker on Hardy off the top rope to get the pinfall victory. The crowd was shocked as The B Team celebrated their championship victory. Fun opening match that had a genuinely surprising finish.
Match Grade: B (pun intended)
Finn Balor def. “Constable” Baron Corbin
Nothing special between these two, as Balor won with a roll-up. It’s good to see Corbin embracing the new “constable” role, and his match quality has gone up with this new role. This was a pretty straight-forward match. Hopefully, this launches Balor towards a Universal Championship match once Lesnar loses the belt.
Match Grade: C
Carmella (c) def. Asuka to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship
This match was…hmm. Rough isn’t a strong enough word to describe this match. Simply put, it was awful. The stuff with James Ellsworth suspended in the shark cage was funny at first, but it ending with Carmella throwing Asuka into the cage was stupid. This title reign from Carmella has been bad, and the fact that it’s continuing is sad. The way Asuka has been treated on the main roster has been embarrassing.
Match grade: D-
Shinsuke Nakamura def. Jeff Hardy (c) to win the United States Championship
This was another shocking result. Nakamura hit Hardy with a low-blow before the match started, then hit the Kinshasa as soon as the bell rang to win the U.S. title. Afterward, Randy Orton returned and looked to be eyeing Nakamura. Instead, he kicked Hardy in the groin, making it an awful night for Hardy. The result of this all is that Nakamura has his first championship on the main roster, which is never a bad thing.
Match grade: Incomplete (the match went six seconds).
Kevin Owens def. Braun Strowman via escaping the cage (steel cage match)
Kevin Owens won the match, but did he really win? Owens escaped the cage first…after Strowman threw him off the top of the cage through the announcer’s table. The match was actually a lot of fun, as Owens and Strowman worked a “David vs. Goliath” match really well. Seeing Strowman break those handcuffs off the rope was hilarious, and it set up Owens’ fall at the end. This is probably the end of the feud, but it definitely went out with a bang.
Match grade: B+
The Bludgeon Brothers (c) defeat Team Hell No to retain the SmackDown Tag Team Championships
The match wasn’t anything special, as Bryan went 1v2 against Harper and Rowan for the majority of the match. The Brothers had taken out Kane prior to the match, setting up Kane to return late in the match and try to win the tag titles for the team. It was funny seeing Kane wrestling with a walking boot, but nothing surprising came out of this match.
Match grade: C+
Bobby Lashley def. Roman Reigns
This was a good match once it got going. A lot of people thought this would be the main event, so seeing it lower on the card was refreshing. A pretty surprising result, as Lashley hit Reigns with a spear to pick up the victory over “The Big Dog.” It was a physical match, which was expected from these two. This sets up a Lashley vs. Brock Lesnar match at SummerSlam, which should be a fun fight.
Match grade: B+
Alexa Bliss (c) def. Nia Jax to retain the Raw Women’s Championship (Extreme Rules match)
This was more of a storyline-driven match, as Ronda Rousey made her presence felt in the match. Bliss retaining the title makes sense, setting up a Rousey/Bliss match for SummerSlam. Jax was entitled to a rematch, and this was the way she was able to get it. It was an average match with a decent usage of the weapons.
Match grade: C-
AJ Styles (c) def. Rusev to retain the WWE Championship
This was the best match of the night, in my opinion. It was a lot of fun seeing Rusev become so close to winning the WWE Championship. They told a great story, with both guys targeting respective body parts to set up their own submission moves. Aiden English ended up costing Rusev the title, as “The Bulgarian Brute” ran into the exposed turnbuckle that English had exposed. The near-falls were awesome, Rusev looked strong, and Styles keeps is WWE title reign going. Overall, the best match on the card.
Match grade: A-
Dolph Ziggler (c) def. Seth Rollins, 5-4, to retain the Intercontinental Championship (30-minute Ironman Match)
This being the main event surprised a lot of people. Despite both guys working a really good match that went to overtime, it’ll be most remembered for the crowd hijacking the match. The fans kept on counting down the last 10 seconds of every minute as if it was the Royal Rumble countdown clock. It was so bad that WWE took the clock off the screen for the majority of the match. The clock needed to be put up again only out of necessity, as Ziggler and Rollins needed to know how much time was left in the match near the end. Even when the two (and Drew McIntyre ringside) were doing important things, the crowd still kept doing the clock countdown. Wrestling-wise, it was a solid match. The crowd absolutely ruined it, though, making the ending to the show feel flat.
Match grade: B. Crowd grade: F-
OVERALL SHOW GRADE: C. There were a lot of ups-and-downs on this show, with the downs being really bad (SEE: Carmella vs. Asuka). While Styles and Rusev was a good match, it wasn’t an earth-shattering encounter that will be remembered for years to come. The framework for SummerSlam has been set from this show, which is what most expected to happen anyway. The biggest storyline to follow now is the status of Universal Champion Brock Lesnar. Will he defend at SummerSlam? Will he be stripped of the title? These questions will be answered in the following weeks.