The WWE pay-per-view live event, Extreme Rules, came to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, where fans saw wrestlers go to the absolute extreme. There was the crowning of a new champion, history made between two women, personal rivalries settled and the surprise return of Bray Wyatt.
Philadelphia is no stranger to the extreme style of pro wrestling; the birthplace of Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) occurred in the City of Brotherly Love. So, when the WWE announced that they were coming back for Extreme Rules, everyone hoped that they were going to get a show that rivaled the ECW of the past — and rival it did.
Since the retirement of Vince McMahon, the WWE has seen many positive changes. These changes are led by Paul Levesque, formerly known as Triple H in the ring. Levesque took control of all creativity in the WWE and has been making shock waves in the wrestling world. Extreme Rules was just another showing of how great the WWE has become since Levesque has been in charge.
Fans can attest that there has been a drought in the last few years, especially regarding Extreme Rules. It’s the one night of the year when the WWE shows the fans how extreme they can get. But unfortunately, they could not offer that under Vince McMahon’s control. Most of the matches were just average and were traditional wrestling matches that held no extreme measure to them until the main event, which was the extreme rule match.
Now under Levesque, that has changed. Every match on the card held a stipulation, whether it was a Ladder match, an “I Quit” match, an Extreme Rules match or even the newly added Fight Pit match. This year’s match card truly felt worthy of Extreme Rules.
15,000 passionate WWE fans were in the Wells Fargo Center to see this event, and all of them went home in shock because the landscape of WWE had changed. The event kicked off with the Brawling Brutes vs. Imperium in a Donnybrook match, which was hard-hitting and brutal — everything you would expect from a match with no rules. Nevertheless, the Brawling Brutes came away with the victory and excited the crowd for the rest of the show.
The next match was for the SmackDown Women’s Championship match between the champion Liv Morgan vs. challenger Ronda Rousey in an Extreme Rules match. This match was not what everyone expected and was the crowd killer.
The chemistry between Morgan and Rousey was not there, there were terrible spots that didn’t connect with the crowd, and the pacing was bad. Rousey came away with the win in the form of submission, but that was not the only match on the card that did not resonate with the crowd.
The Strap match between Drew McIntyre and Karrion Kross took place after. The overall match was good, but it did not live up to the hype that the crowd was expecting.
Kross was released from WWE under Vince McMahon and brought back a year later when Levesque took power. Kross and his wife, Scarlet, are some of the many wrestlers that have come back thanks to the influence of Levesque.
The match ended in controversy, as McIntyre was going to deliver his finisher, the Claymore Kick, but Scarlet jumped in the ring and sprayed McIntyre in the face with pepper spray. Kross took advantage and struck McIntyre in the back of the head with an elbow, picking up the victory, but many believe this rivalry is far from over.
History was made in the final championship match of the night, where for the first time, the Women’s Championship was defended in a Ladder match. Raw’s Women’s Champion Bianca Belair battled against the returning Bayley. Belair and Bayley are strangers to each other and were supposed to have a championship years ago, but that match never came to be because Bayley suffered an injury that put her on the shelf for nearly two years.
When Bayley made her return at the SummerSlam Pay-Per-View in August, everyone was excited that this match would finally happen. The match did not disappoint at all and met expectations.
There were great spots, including one with Belair hitting her finisher, the KOD, on two of Bayley’s Damage Control faction members, Iyo Sky and Dakota Kai. The match showed that no matter the odds and no matter what the match stipulation is, Belair is a fighting champion, proving why she is the “EST of the WWE.”
The match of the night for many came in the “I Quit” match between Edge and Finn Balor, which had many storytelling elements in it.
Edge recruited Balor to be part of his faction The Judgment Day, but was betrayed by Balor, who took control of the faction. Judgment Day tried to end Edge’s career, but Edge returned and challenged Balor at Extreme Rules, promising him that he would destroy what he created.
The match was hard, brutal and felt like a war as both men battled against each other. Neither side wanted to say the two humiliating words, but as the match went on, The Judgment Day overpowered Edge with their numbers. Even the rescue from Rey Mysterio and Edge’s wife, Beth Phoenix, was not enough to stop them.
Finally, Edge was forced to say “I quit,” giving Balor a massive win over the wrestling legend.
In the main event, Matt Riddle faced Seth Rollins in the “Fight Pit”, a match stipulation used before in NXT, the developmental brand for the WWE. The “Fight Pit” was something many never imagined would be on the main roster, but with Levesque in charge, anything is possible.
“Fight Pit” is a fan-favorite match stipulation that adds an MMA feel to the wrestling world. The only way to win the match is to knock out your opponent or have them submit; there is no escape and no pinfalls. Both wrestlers are trapped in a cage-like structure with no doors.
This match between Riddle and Rollins had been brewing for months, and the WWE decided they needed someone with cage fighting experience to oversee this match, which was none other than UFC legend Daniel Cormier, who acted as the special guest referee. Cormier is a massive fan of the WWE and Rollins, plus has a personal history with Riddle.
Cormier announced on the go-home show of Monday Night Raw that he would be the referee and would call the match right down the middle. There were times in the match when Cormier would get physical with the two combatants and did an excellent job making the crowd feel like he was a part of the match.
Riddle and Rollins put on a great match worthy of the main event. Riddle, who has an MMA background, was the favorite for this match and was in his element, but that did not mean Rollins would go away easy. Rollins fought back, bringing out his MMA techniques, but in the end, he was no match for the “Original Bro.” Riddle submitted Rollins by putting him in a triangle choke hold, earning his victory in a personal rivalry, but the show was not over yet.
When the match concluded, the lights darkened, and everyone knew what this moment signified: it was time for the white rabbit to be revealed. For weeks, fans have been trying to figure out who this mysterious white rabbit is. WWE has been leaving QR codes through their programming, and each code leads fans to cryptic messages on the white rabbit.
The wait was worth it, for Bray Wyatt has returned. Wyatt was released one year ago over creative differences under the previous regime, but now he is back. He walked through the tunnel holding his trademark lantern, sporting a new and terrifying mask.
When he revealed his face, he heard the roar of fans that nearly blew the roof off the Wells Fargo Center. The show ended with Wyatt blowing out the lantern and darkening the stadium. The signing of Wyatt changes many things for the WWE and the wrestling community.
Wyatt, one of the biggest free agents out there, gives the WWE even more superstar power. Now, the question is who Wyatt will target first. Either way, the following weeks will be fascinating and will make Raw and Smackdown must-see TV.
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