I’m guessing that you are aware of this as you’ve clicked on an article that states it’s intent in the title; but just in case you may have clicked on this by accident and you haven’t seen Extreme Rules yet then let me take the time to declare FULL SPOILER ALERT!!!
Now that formality is taken care of; let us have a look at what transpired in the IZOD center last night. As with all my articles; this one is written to provoke discussion so feel free to take part in the comments section.
l want to open this review by declaring that, overall, I enjoyed the show; it wasn’t brilliant but it wasn’t terrible and it had plenty of enjoyable moments. But to me it never got beyond a good show overall; let’s face it, we aren’t going to be talking about this one for years to come. Though having individual moments that were greater than the show as a whole; this was not a classic event that we’ll tell our grandchildren about. But still; it was a good show overall (at least in this writer’s opinion).
Let us start at the beginning and take a look at the “WeeLC” match; something that despite my liberal tendencies I was morbidly curious about and strangely looking forward to (the numerous reports of gimmicked tables, ladders & chairs for dwarfs adding fuel to the fire admittedly). I should point out to those of you who haven’t read my previous work that I British and a native of London; and that as a result of the differences between American and British sociopolitical attitudes I may view this differently to most who read this. While many of my countrymen would tut about this match as non-PC and exploitative; I was all for it. Equality means everyone has the same rights and opportunities regardless of age, race, gender, class, sexual orientation or disability ; and if these two guys have trained to be wrestlers then good on them for following their dreams and why shouldn’t they have the same opportunities to perform in the same situations as their non-dwarf peers? But I know if I talked about this match in liberal London society then there would be a lot of disgust, faux-outrage & well meaning patronization of dwarfs under the banner of being anti-exploitation; and I would be viewed as a pariah for expressing that I enjoyed it. But, damn them, it was fun; and I am proud to say I enjoyed the hell out of the match.
Was it silly and stupid? Hell yeah; but it wore it proudly on it’s sleeve and never had tried to make us take it as the dwarf equivalent of Flair vs Steamboat. This was entertainment at it’s purest in wrestling; and everyone involved did their best to make the match as fun and entertaining as it could be. I also feel that Los Matadores and 3MB deserve a lot of praise for their attitude to their involvement in this angle; if any individual of the five felt that this was below them or dented their ego then it wasn’t on show last. In fact the total willingness to be a part of this match and the way they threw themselves into their spots added to the overall feeling of fun. A great way to open the show; and I was with the excellent IZOD crowd when they showed their appreciation with a “This is awesome” chant. Again, it was never going to be Flair vs Steamboat; but it was the most fun thing I’ve seen on WWE television for a long time.
The main show opened with the elimination triple threat match between Rob Van Dam, Jack Swagger and Cesaro; and, while I’m enjoying them, I have to ask what the planned payoff for Paul Heyman’s “My client, Brock Lesnar, beat The Undertaker’s streak” promos will be? Don’t get me wrong, like everything that comes as a result of giving Paul a live microphone, they’re excellent and their delivery is spot on; but I just don’t see where it’s going in the story. But then again; maybe they’re just there to keep Heyman heel and keep Brock Lesnar in the consciousness while away and further legitimize him at the same time. While a good effort from all involved; the match wasn’t as memorable as it could have been and the outcome was predictable.
Therein lies my major grumble with the main card overall; while the efforts of the performers lifted most of the matches to a high standard the fact that the outcomes were predictable hurt the feel of the show overall. I barely paid attention to the handicap match pitting Alexander Rusev against the team of R-Truth and Xavier Woods; he’d beaten them both clean in dominant fashion on TV over the past few weeks and is being pushed as an unstoppable monster. I didn’t believe that Truth and Woods had a cat in hell’s chance of winning so I zoned out; sorry, but that’s the truth of the matter.
The Intercontinental Title match between Bad News Barrett and Big E was decent; but my quibbles about this one have more to do with other aspects rather than the match itself. I’m not yet convinced about Big E; but, for someone who the office is meant to be high on, he’s been handled poorly since the night of Wrestlmania 30. He was eliminated from the Andre Battle Royal around the middle of the match by Fandango, took the clean loss in a tag team effort against The Wyatt Family when partnered with Sheamus and John Cena on Raw and has barely been seen on television since that match; it makes one wonder, knowing the reasons for this kind of booking by WWE for others in the past, what exactly did Big E do or say to rub the office up the wrong way? While I accept that it’s wrestling tradition to switch the secondary belt to a heel when a face holds the top belt and am behind the push of Wade Barrett; when you factor in the other things it makes you wonder.
As for Barrett; I worried for my fellow countryman when the news that he was to be repackaged came through. But the character is, seemingly, a logical extension of his previous character; Barrett’s character before this was one that worked on two levels for this writer. He took a character that was essentially the type of modern Brit that we Brit’s don’t like (a cocky, arrogant, loud, know it all bully who walks with a swagger and a self-satisfied smirk) and offered it to the American audience. Part of the reason he is so over in Britain, despite the obvious, is that he took an modern stereotype from our society and made it into a universally hated and disliked character by other nations; we respect that. But, despite my initial misgivings, I am buying into the Bad News character; it’s a bridging of the cultures in a way. It keeps what worked before but Americanizes it more by giving it a political talk show host spin. It will work well in the States because it plays off another universal truth of the human condition; we don’t like it when a foreigner in our country points out flaws in it or tells us what to do. It’s getting over; lets hope he can keep the momentum going.