There are reasons why WWE shouldn’t offer two PPV shows within a three-week span in a single month. Extreme Rules 2016 offered several such reasons, none of them good to justify the practice.
Extreme Rules 2016 was just another Sunday night PPV that felt like nothing special when it all over. A line-up that looked strong on paper was underwhelming in execution. Only the Intercontinental Championship match went above and beyond. Other matches started out strong but were defeated by poor, often lazy booking and being rushed for time.
So far, the so-called “New Era” of WWE seems an awful lot like the old era. As long as Vince McMahon remains in the position of calling every shot, no forward progressive progress will be made or last long in WWE. If Payback was the hint that this was so, Extreme Rules was the definitive proof.
Pre-Show Fracas: Straight Back To Dudleyville: The Dudley Boyz, Bubba Ray and D-Von, hit the ring to cut a promo against the latest thorn in their side, NXT call-up Big Cass Colin Cassidy. The Dudleys were cheered at first, so they quickly turned the New Jersey crowd against them by trashing the state. Big Cass came out and at first, I thought we’d get a kickass impromptu match, especially since there was well over 30 minutes of pre-show left. Alas, all we got was Big Cass swiftly cleaning house and laying out both Dudleys to the delight of the crowd. It wouldn’t have killed anyone to have a Big Cass/Bubba Ray or D-Von match. But why give fans an extra match when they can keep on chattering away and providing a hard sell to a PPV most people have already made up their minds to watch or order. As long as Vince McMahon remains as stubborn as a mule, he’ll never learn.
Pre-Show Match: No DQ- Baron Corbin Vs. Dolph Ziggler: Despite a one-hour pre-show, these two barely got 7 minutes to put on what should have been a hot match on paper. As a result, the match wasn’t any good. Free from HHH’s careful booking in NXT, Corbin’s shortcomings in the ring have become more glaringly obvious. He needed at least another year of seasoning in Florida. Perhaps I should be grateful that at least Corbin won this time, finishing off Ziggler with the End of Days. It was just about the only impressive spot in the match. Some have speculated that Ziggler was working hurt. That certainly would explain a lot. ½*
Texas Tornado Match: The Usos Vs. Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows: This was a hot opener and easily the best Texas Tornado match in many years. The only complaint is that it was a tad too short at barely 8 minutes. At least it started out hot and never let up in terms of exciting action. Finish was fairly clever and different. It appeared that the Usos were going to prevail as Jimmy Uso was all set to finish off Anderson with the Superfly Splash. Anderson rolled out of the way and Jimmy landed atop the ring bell that Anderson had dragged into the ring moments earlier. That was all Anderson and Gallows needed to finish off Jimmy with the Magic Killer for the pin. The right team won, but why did this match have to be so short? The work was magic and I could have easily gone for another 10 minutes. ***3/4
United States Champion Kalisto Vs. Rusev: After three straight demotions to the pre-show, the US Championship match finally returned to the main card. Despite the drastic size difference between the diminutive Kalisto and the bulkier Rusev, they worked well together and had a really good 10 minute match here. It also had strong psychology, built around the concept that Kalisto was entering his title defense smarting from a series of persistent attacks from the challenger. Then came the finishing sequence, which was one of the more clever and interesting I’ve seen in a singles championship match in a while. Kalisto attempted to counter Rusev’s Torture Rack with the Salida Del Sol, but Rusev slammed the champ hard into the ring apron. Kalisto laid there as if he was legitimately injured and at first, I believed that he was. It soon became apparent that this was part of the match as Rusev dragged Kalisto’s carcass back into the ring, kicked him hard in the back, swatted away the ref and locked on the Accolade. Since Kalisto was so small, Rusev was able to bend all the way backwards, looking as if he broke Kalisto in half. Kalisto tapped out, giving Rusev the win and his second US title. Despite being a heel, Rusev was heavily cheered by the live Jersey crowd. ***3/4
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day Vs. The Vaudevillains: As an avid NXT fan, it was sad to see such a charismatic and talented team like Aiden English and Simon Gotch receive no reaction from the live crowd in New Jersey. It’s yet another sign that once hot NXT talent wind up on the main roster, they are deprived of what made them special. This was a good match, but considering how good both of these teams are, it should have been a lot better. It didn’t help that they only got six minutes of ring time, which made this bout seem as if it was solely designed as time filler, not a high-stakes major title match. It did seem as if the Vaudevillains would pull off an upset when English and Gotch finished off Big E, but it wasn’t to be. After Big E. recovered and speared English out of the ring, Kofi Kingston interfered, kicking Gotch in the skull. Xavier Woods nailed the Shining Wizard on Gotch’s corpse for the pin. It makes for a strange dynamic when the faces cheat while the heels play by the rules. ***1/4