Friday, 11 August 2017

DVD Review: WWE Double Feature: Extreme Rules 2017 & Money In The Bank 2017

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 344 Minutes
Certificate: 12
Number Of Discs: 2
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: August 14 2017

(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)

In my previous Double Feature review for the Payback and Backlash set, I noted how the increasing quality of Raw and the declining quality of SmackDown became obvious when watching the Raw and SD PPVs respectively. The same applies to the next Double Feature set, the subject of this review, which covers Extreme Rules and Money In The Bank: ER has several matches of a high quality (and one match which is poorly booked, to be fair), whereas MITB has few notable moments from an in-ring standpoint, and generally feels second-rate.

Extreme Rules opens with an enjoyable if overly-long clash for the Intercontinental Title between Dean Ambrose and The Miz; contrary to the feeling that this was a never-ending feud, this actually marked their first of just two PPV meetings. Next, we get a basic mixed tag team match as Rich Swann and Sasha Banks battle Noam Dar and Alicia Fox; it's okay for what it is, but nothing more.

Next up comes arguably the lowest point of Bayley's main roster tenure as her rematch against Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women's Championship under Kendo Stick On A Pole rules is way too short and makes The Hugger look incredibly weak, culminating several months of questionable booking for Bayley. Better is the Raw Tag Team Championship Steel Cage clash between The Hardyz and the team of Sheamus and Cesaro: what I enjoyed about this feud is that, without sounding like a dated reference, it provides good old-fashioned and simple doubles wrestling, with the cage used effectively both for major spots and for the surprise finish.

Neville vs. Austin Aries under Submission rules for the Cruiserweight Championship is very well-worked, but plays before a seemingly bored crowd, perhaps because the ground-based submission rules negate the need for the high-flying action associated with the cruiserweight division (not that this has happened much since WWE revived the division last year, but that's another story). Finally, the show ends with an awesome Fatal 5 Way Extreme Rules match between Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Samoa Joe, Finn Balor and Bray Wyatt: it lasts nearly 30 minutes and features a ton of action, an unexpected outcome and all with high stakes (a shot at Brock Lesnar's Universal Championship at Great Balls Of Fire).

Money In The Bank, on the other hand, kicks off with a controversial MITB match for the women's division: Becky Lynch, Carmella, Charlotte, Tamina and Natalya. There was a huge outcry that a man (James Ellsworth) would be actively involved in the finish of this first, historic women's MITB bout, but the bigger disappointment for me was the action itself: they clearly grafted but, perhaps due to time, this doesn't come close to matching the pre-MITB expectations.

The Usos vs. The New Day is a really good tag match, albeit with a poor finish, and Naomi vs. Lana feels like filler at best and completely pointless at worst; it certainly does nothing to alter the perception that the SmackDown brand in general had taken a major tumble in quality since the Superstar Shake-Up. Nor does the Jinder Mahal-Randy Orton WWE Title rematch; it's slightly better than their previous bout at Backlash, but the finishes of both Jinder-Randy showdowns are too similar, again making this match feel a bit unnecessary.

Breezango vs. The Ascension is okay, and ticks the comedy box for the show, but still feels a bit out of place on a PPV event. Finally, the men's MITB match between Shinsuke Nakamura, AJ Styles, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler is the best match of the night, but slightly underwhelming overall (this contains the Nakamura-AJ face-off which was enjoyable on the night, but has since been treated as something akin to Jesus reuniting with an old friend upon another resurrection by certain hardcore fans).

The Kick-Off Show matches from both cards form the extras here: Kalisto vs. Apollo Crews, and The Hype Bros vs. The Colons. Both are entertaining enough, but neither bout is worth going out of your way to see in my opinion (sorry Zack Ryder fans).

Overall, then, as a complete package this Double Feature set is probably worth owning, but only if you adjust your expectations accordingly. Extreme Rules has a lot of worthy action, but Money In The Bank suffers from SmackDown's creative malaise which has seemingly crossed over into the ring, preventing some matches from reaching their full potential. The two main events and the Steel Cage bout are the best parts of this two-disc set, so they justify a purchase; however, if you're buying this solely for the Money In The Bank card, you may be disappointed as that show in particular is the weakest MITB PPV to date.

Overall Rating: 6.5/10 - Okay

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