May 22, 2016 in Newark, NJ
WWE came to the Prudential Center in Newark for Extreme Rules this year, and while I haven’t been enamored with their direction recently, I like enough of the roster individually to give it a shot and attend my first live WWE pay-per-view (strange as that seems). I unfortunately ended up having to leave a bit early and missed the last two matches. Of course I will only be talking about what I saw. Shame missing Styles, but I have seen him live before and I had no illusions that he would be winning anyway.
Decent view of the ring for not having a floor seat, but there was no indication when I got the ticket that I was behind the set and wouldn’t be able to see the entrances (and because of the “entrance videos” playing wrestler entrances aren’t shown on the screens either). A bit disappointing considering how much time is devoted to them. I’ve never been to any type of event before where there was an obstructed view of part of the show and it wasn’t marked when purchasing the ticket. They get away with it by claiming only the ring matters, but it’s still sketchy. Oh well. As I said I could see the ring fine, so good enough I suppose, and I’ll know better next time.
The first pre-show happenings featured The Dudleys came out to fire up the crowd by playing off ECW nostalgia then turn them on a dime with insults. I have to say, from about 30 ft away and without being able to see the entrance and thus having no warning, their pyro was INSANELY loud and startling. As the Dudleys run down the crowd Enzo and Cass’s music hit and the everyone goes nuts for Big Cass. He does a strong promo overall where he mixes admittedly hokey insults with Enzo’s usual intro for them. The Dudleys jump him but he gets the better of them and does his sing-a-long to finish the segment. Fine to rile the crowd up, although I don’t know why this couldn’t have resulted in a match between Cass and one of them instead and accomplished all the same things (and more) in a more logical way.
Baron Corbin vs Dolph Ziggler suffered a bit from the stipulation, as they did NOTHING no-DQ until the finish. So the audience was just waiting for the ballshot all match. Big win for Corbin regardless, hopefully he’s on to other things now.
Still surreal seeing Anderson and Gallows as The Club in WWE. They faced the Usos in the opener for the PPV proper. Not sure these teams have the chemistry against each other they need for this extended feud, but there were a couple nice spots and the right team went over.
US Champion Kalisto has been booked extremely weak since winning the belt, and his challenger Rusev is one of the only wrestler in recent memory to have a dominant reign, so the cheering dynamic was quite “backwards” here. Rusev dominated and took back his US Title with a nasty new Accolade variation to a hero’s ovation from the crowd. Accomplished what it needed to.
Man, Newark loves itself some New Day. They get crazy cheers for any and every thing they do. Xavier and Big E defended against The Vaudvillains in a fairly straightforward victory for the champs. The Vaudvillains still haven’t gotten much heat with the crowd, and given New Day gets cheered for heel tactics it’s hard to establish heels against them. I adore the shining wizard though, so Xavier’s finish gets bonus points.
Miz defending his Intercontinental Championship against Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, and Cesaro was the match I went to see. Miz has gotten a lot better recently and is really finding the right character now, but the draw was the three challengers. I’ve watched them all before WWE, have been thrilled to see them continue to evolve and improve, and it was a treat seeing them go all out against each other for a title on a WWE PPV.
The crowd was super-hot throughout this match. As far as we were concerned Owens was as much a face as Zayn and Claudio. Although he did get some massive heat for interrupting a tower-of-doom spot. They all used the 4-way format to its fullest, with several great multi-person spots and believable near-falls. The latter was particularly impressive – there were numerous places where the match could have ended and felt natural that were broken up by another of the participants. It really worked the crowd into a frenzy.
While I understand the storyline advantages of Miz stealing a win and retaining, the crowd was ready for a face victory and Cesaro is eating far too many pins after his white-hot return. Minor point in the grand scheme of things though, as the match was fantastic regardless.
Tough spot for these Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho having to follow that with their Asylum match. Not just because of the quality of the proceeding match topped with the Miz’s victory punching the wind out of the crowd a bit, but given the Asylum format no one believed the match would end before they cycled through all the weapons. So everyone sat on their hands for half the match.
I enjoyed parts of the match, such as a visually awesome fire extinguisher spot and their use of the thumbtacks, but this really dragged as they claimed the weapons one by one. The attempted straightjacket strapping also broke up the flow of the match. And I have no idea why the ONLY weapon not used was the one they centered the buildup around and that everyone was waiting to see used.
The IC match knocking it out of the park, nothing being actively bad, and some nice highlights throughout the night made my evening enjoyable despite not seeing the whole show. But as usual lately with the WWE, this could have been a LOT better with just some minor tweaks, which is a bit frustrating.