Friday, 22 July 2016

Extreme Rules 2016

Image Source: Fetch Publicity
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 180 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 1
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: July 18 2016

(To read a full event review of WWE Extreme Rules 2016, click here.)

(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)

A lot can happen in two months. Since Extreme Rules took place, we've had the comebacks from injury for Seth Rollins, John Cena and Bray Wyatt (Rollins returned at the very end of Extreme Rules admittedly) and Randy Orton's return has been announced; Roman Reigns has been suspended; and Brock Lesnar returned to UFC with a victory over Mark Hunt at UFC 200, and had a SummerSlam showdown with Orton announced, only for that match to be called into question given the news that Lesnar failed a drug test prior to the UFC fight. Oh, and WWE has just been split into two via the latest Draft, which will mark a new era for WWE.

Ironically, the term "New Era" was being pushed heavily on WWE television prior to Extreme Rules given the spotlight on NXT stars and other faces who were fresh to WWE, or performers who were being given another chance to succeed. Despite the injuries still plaguing WWE at that point, the product still had some momentum heading into Extreme Rules - the one night of the year when WWE goes "extreme" - and watching it again on DVD, the show is a good portrayal of how the emphasis on high-quality wrestling action had made WWE a more interesting place than it had been in the dark days of late 2015.

The opening match, pitting Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson against The Usos under Tornado rules, is better than I had remembered it being at the time, with plenty of innovative double-team manoeuvres and some unique, hard-hitting strikes (particularly by the Club combo). Kalisto's United States Title defence against Rusev is okay, but it's a sign of how much control WWE has lost of its audience whereby the fans repeatedly boo the attempts by officials to help a (kayfabe) injured Kalisto just before the end. It's also strange how John Bradshaw Layfield, on commentary, completely endorsed the anti-American Rusev after his title win, since he reacted like the world had come to an end when Rusev first snatched the prize in November 2014.

The New Day vs. The Vaudevillains is a standard tag team affair with some convincing false finishes, and opens with a typically entertaining New Day promo. Up next, though, is the highlight of the show, as The Miz, Cesaro, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn put on one hell of a show in a Fatal Four Way clash for the Intercontinentnal Championship. This lengthy collision features all sorts of big moves, close near-falls and eye-catching multi-man spots, before a red-hot audience. I think it's been slightly overrated by some since the bout took place, but it is a perfect example of what a mid-card match on a PPV event should be. Hopefully, showings like this will help at least some of the entrants to progress up the card in the post-Draft era; they all proved on this night that they wouldn't look out of place in the main event scene (or back in the main event scene, in the case of The Miz).

The Asylum match between Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho was heavily panned at the time, due to it lasting 26 minutes, the emphasis on weapon-based action (despite this show being Extreme Rules) and the lack of crowd interest. Watching it again, I certainly don't think it is a bad match, and while the crowd does go quiet for lengthy periods, it's still a better atmosphere than we've seen in many other big matches. Had they taken out the middle portion (so to jump from, say, the kendo stick shots to the revelation of the thumb tacks, with Ambrose's cage-top elbow drop thrown in near the end), this would have seemed a lot better; however, those who immediately class it as one of the year's worst matches are being too harsh, in my opinion.

The Women's Title Submission bout between Charlotte and Natalya remains a disappointing affair, compared to what these two have achieved in previous matches. In this case, an extra few minutes would have made a big difference, and the creative let them down too (especially since the interfering Dana Brooke, wearing a Ric Flair-style robe, came out too early albeit off-camera, making Natalya look ridiculous for not noticing here despite looking right at her!). The main event between Roman Reigns and AJ Styles for the WWE World Heavyweight Title under Extreme Rules is a superb headline attraction; Styles takes some wild bumps, particularly for a near-40 year old who apparently has pretty serious bac issues, and Reigns holds up his end of the bargain with flawless execution and plenty of big moves, in spite of the dominantly anti-Roman crowd. The post-match return of Seth Rollins ends the show with a bang, and set up the Rollins-Reigns feud which, at Money In The Bank, would bring in Dean Ambrose and set up the all-Shield main event at Battleground this Sunday.

The bonus material here consists solely of the Kick-Off Show match between Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler, under No Disqualification rules. This is a decent match which puts Corbin over as an uncaring heel, although it's clear that their feud should have ended here, with a truncated and enjoyable clash that the audience were interested in. Dragging this feud out until Money In The Bank hurt both, as it resulted in the complete opposite: an unnecessarily long, slow, less exciting match that was greeted with "Boring!" chants. Fortunately, the Corbin-Ziggler marriage still worked here, as Baron picked up an important win over the Show-Off.

Extreme Rules was a really good show, one of the better supershows of 2016, so the DVD is worth owning. There's a great Fatal Four Way match for the IC Title, a strong main event for the WWE Title which ends with a big return, and some worthwhile action elsewhere on the card. The success of this event would be overshadowed by the major hype for the subsequent Money In The Bank event, which featured official comeback matches for Rollins and Cena, but when the time comes to review the top cards of 2016, there's a good chance that Extreme Rules will sit amongst those shows.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10 - Good

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