With WWE Extreme Rules 2019 concluded, it’s time to look back on what happened and assess the damage, praise the positives and talk about what went down.
Per usual, at the end of this post, you’ll see my regular Smack Talk Pay-Per-Viewpoint post-show podcast, which reviews the event in more detail, but for those who want a more condensed version of my thoughts, I present to you my “quicker than a hiccup” reaction to the different parts of the evening:
Intercontinental Championship Match: Finn Balor (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura:
Good opening match. I’m surprised it was on the card at all, given how they just threw it out there with no real care originally and then forgot about it for a bit, too. The feud itself is lackluster, and I’m not sure if Balor dropping the belt to Nakamura of all people is the absolute best choice, but I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that this is a step in the right direction.
Cruiserweight Championship Match: Drew Gulak (c) vs. Tony Nese:
The match itself wasn’t as good as I was hoping it would be, but I’m glad that Gulak retained the title, and that’s the most important thing in my mind. Now, it’s time to move on to a new opponent, like Oney Lorcan or Gentleman Jack Gallagher, before eventually dropping it to Chad Gable at WrestleMania. At least, that’s how I’d book things. Don’t give me Humberto Carrillo as the next challenger, please.
No Holds Barred Tag Team Match: Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs. Drew McIntyre and Shane McMahon:
This was a lot better than I had anticipated. I actually enjoyed it quite a bit.
Sure, there were some problems here and there, like Undertaker not picking up Shane McMahon correctly for the Tombstone at the end, but I don’t know which person to blame on that one, and if that’s my biggest nitpick (at least until I start doing the podcast below, which may open up some other thoughts), then that’s a thumbs up from me.
This washed the taste out of my mouth of the Goldberg match, got the crowd to pop, had Shane take a loss and protected McIntyre. Good stuff.
Raw Tag Team Championship Match: The Revival (c) vs. The Usos:
These two teams are among the best in the company across all brands. Of course they were going to have a good match.
However, I’ll admit that if I apply the same criticism as I did for AEW’s Fight for the Fallen last night, I don’t remember anything that happened here, save for Scott Dawson falling weird on the ropes. It wasn’t memorable, but it was still good.
Aleister Black vs. Cesaro:
Another match that was rock solid from top to bottom, but I don’t think people are going to be going totally nuts over, or considering for Match of the Year or anything.
That’s perfectly fine. There’s nothing wrong with having a very good performance that isn’t groundbreaking. At least, this was a good start in showcasing Aleister Black and getting him back in the swing of things, and not having Cesaro get completely shown up, either.
SmackDown Women’s Championship 2-on-1 Handicap Match: Bayley (c) vs. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross:
No Sasha Banks? No heel turns? No split for Bliss and Cross? No title change? No reason to have this match, then.
This wasn’t bad, but nothing happened, and that makes me dislike that they invested all this extra time into telling the same story they had told for Stomping Grounds and just stretching it out. I’m never a fan of lazy writing and this is very clearly just “I don’t know, do that again” copy and paste work.
Last Man Standing Match: Braun Strowman vs. Bobby Lashley:
This was one of my more favorite matches of the night. It was far from the type of hardcore action we’ve seen in the past if we go back to the Attitude Era or anything like that, but it was one of the more gimmicky matches of the night that felt like it belonged on Extreme Rules.
The finish was equal parts dumb and great. I’m never going to mark out too much when I see padding, because that takes me out of it, but I loved the idea of Strowman crashing through the wall. That’s my type of Monster Among Men, who is booked like a goddamn cartoon character.
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Triple Threat Match: Daniel Bryan and Rowan (c) vs. The New Day vs. Heavy Machinery:
Awesome match. Everybody looked good, whether they were the new tag team champions, the former champions or Heavy Machinery, who could have easily just been there to take a pin and stretch things out by having The New Day challenge Bryan and Rowan for SummerSlam under the grounds of not having been pinned.
I know some people might not be 100% into another tag title reign for The New Day, but I’ve been a fan of that team since the very first vignette, and I’ll gladly sit through another run with them as champs.
United States Championship Match: Ricochet (c) vs. AJ Styles:
Good match, but forgettable in the grand scheme of things. I can see an argument for why Styles “had” to win the title, so as to solidify his heel turn and make him a viable threat going forward, but I don’t like that Ricochet had to lose the belt in the process.
Now, I feel underwhelmed by the United States Championship this year even more. There keeps being all this potential that fizzles out in no time, whether it’s Samoa Joe, Rey Mysterio, Ricochet, etc holding the belt.
Hopefully, Ricochet doesn’t just get lost in the shuffle now, and this doesn’t end up being Styles holding the belt for a long time simply because The Club interfere in every match and WWE can’t tell any other story other than “the champion retains because he’s a heel. Tune in next week for the same thing again.”
Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler:
What’s there to say about squash matches?
WWE Championship Match: Kofi Kingston (c) vs. Samoa Joe:
Good contest, as expected. I really dig Kofi Kingston as champion when he’s booked like this, where he just has a good match with a good opponent and overcomes the odds. It helps legitimize him, and I really feel like the more this happens, the less there will be people at the end of the year going “Well, he was just a transitional champion who only won the belt because there wasn’t anybody else at the time.”