Welcome to another edition of eWN Ring Position, where we gather some of the most active writers here on eWrestlingNews and share the platform to answer some questions surrounding a centralized topic, upcoming event, etc.
This is meant to showcase the potential for both a wide range of perspectives as well as how sometimes, there can be a group consensus no matter what your viewpoint is, so we also invite all of you to join in on the discussion by answering these questions yourself in the comments section below.
For this particular volume, we’ll be focusing on Extreme Rules 2018.
Participants for this round = Anthony Mango, Richard Staple, Kyle Dunning and Ethan Absler.
1) “Do you feel like this card’s gimmicks are enough to justify the Extreme Rules namesake, or does it fall short of living up to previous years?”
MANGO: After the past few years, I don’t have much hope for Extreme Rules to be anything more than what it currently is. To a certain extent, I don’t think it needs to be, either. If every match was a gimmick just for the hell of it, it would run into the same problem of how we don’t need a Hell in a Cell every October. I’m fine with this card not having more, but I also think they could have tweaked some of these stipulations just a tad.
STAPLE: As of Monday night, the only stipulations that we have on deck for Extreme Rules is a 30 minute Iron Man Match, a steel cage match and an Extreme Rules match. The Iron Man match doesn’t really even qualify as an extreme match because unless stated otherwise, a disqualification counts as a fall. Last year’s card had a steel cage match, a fatal five-way extreme rules match, a submission match and a kendo stick match (even though that remains an abomination). In 2015, the card featured a Last Man Standing match, a Chicago Street Fight, a steel cage match, and a Russian chain match. Yes, I’d say this card doesn’t exactly live up to the billing since there are only two matches you could consider “extreme”. Here’s what I say. If you could replace Extreme Rules and call it Backlash or No Mercy, then the PPV didn’t do its job. There’s nothing “extreme” about this card other than the length that it will probably be.
DUNNING: As I’m writing this before seeing Smackdown, I assume the only “hardcore” type matches are the extreme rules match (Nia & Alexa), and the steel cage match (Strowman & Owens)? The issue with Extreme Rules is it began as a tribute to ECW, but over the years WWE scaled back on its hardcore content. If you was an ECW fan and preferred the style, you’d see Extreme Rules as a mere shadow unworthy of its origins.
However, this doesn’t mean WWE can’t take it to the limit. You can have cool spots, you can still be “extreme” in a match with rules; you just need to get creative. The card is interesting, so the lack of hardcore type matches may not harm it if the wrestlers deliver. The PPV has a mixed history, most of them being forgettable, while some have been pretty good. There’s never been a legendary Extreme Rules though .. you’d have to go back to what it used to be called (One Night Stand 2005) for that.
Looking back through its history, the average amount of Extreme Rules matches booked at this PPV is one. In 2015, there were no Extreme Rules matches at all, yet it had a Street Fight, Last Man Standing, Chain, and Steel Cage match. At the end of the day, this years incarnation is just as extreme as WWE’s been willing to be in years. You have to go all the way back to the 2009-2011 PPVs to see the namesake doing justice.
ABSLER: This year’s Extreme Rules card falls just a tad short when it comes to living up to the show’s name. With that said, that doesn’t mean we won’t see some great hardcore spots when the New Day faces sAnity in a tables match, Nia vs Alexa in an Extreme Rules match, and Owens vs Strowman in a steel cage.
2) “When all things are said and done, who will end up having been a bigger challenge for Dr. Shelby: Sasha Banks and Bayley, or Team Hell No?”
MANGO: Team Hell No. They’re the more dynamic team and they had more fun with it already. Banks and Bayley are just whining, and they aren’t the first, so everything feels like it references back to Daniel Bryan and Kane. Plus, I expect to see a crossover segment at Extreme Rules, and I think Team Hell No are going to cause Shelby to have flashbacks and run away or something.
STAPLE: What made Team Hell No highly popular six years ago was how organic and spontaneous it was. You had Daniel Bryan, who became the roster’s most popular act, ironically, out of his embarrassing WrestleMania 28 defeat at the hands of Sheamus. You then pair him up with Kane, a masked demonic figure who was making out with his former on-screen girlfriend, AJ Lee. Admittedly, I didn’t know what to expect when WWE combined a small, technical wrestling vegan with a seven-foot demon, but they struck gold, because it forced both superstars, more so Kane, to work out of their element. Dr. Shelby was merely a conduit that made the dynamic between them even more intriguing.
Sasha Banks and Bayley is completely different in not only their reasoning for getting Shelby’s reasoning but what their plans are. They aren’t going to become a tag team. They are probably going to get one big blow off match. That’s why I was confused at the direction of giving them counseling. I thought Bayley would solidify a heel turn, but instead, WWE insisted on reverting back to the beginning of the story instead of advancing the plot. Sasha’s been turning on Bayley since the Rumble, and when Bayley finally gets her revenge, she needs counseling? The dynamic isn’t nearly the same, and that’s why Shelby will probably have a harder time with the ladies. Besides, Kane and Daniel got degrees out of it!
DUNNING: An odd question. I think Dr. Shelby didn’t get anywhere near as much time with Sasha & Bayley as he did with Team Hell No. It took him a while to get through to Kane & Bryan, so there’s no telling who would’ve been the bigger challenge. Honestly, I just want WWE to stop this nonsense and put Bayley and Sasha in Hell in a Cell. I don’t get what they’re doing .. Coach said on Raw “their jobs could potentially be on the line” if they don’t work things out? What!?? It’s ridiculous. Stop the torture.