It’s the one night of the year in WWE when the only rule is that there are no rules. Sort of. Join Matthew Roberts as he takes a look at WWE Home Video’s latest DVD release, Extreme Rules 2019.
It’s easy to mock the concept of “Extreme Rules” in the PG-WWE but I found the complaints before this show had even begun that not every match had a gimmick somewhat strange. There is no need for overkill and let’s face it, no-one complains that not every match at the Royal Rumble is a Royal Rumble or that not every match at Money In The Bank is a Money In The Bank match. Mind you, I do frequently complain when Survivor Series limits the number of Survivor Series elimination matches it has. But that’s the exception that proves the rule.
Of course the real complaints online before this show were that Baron Corbin and Lacey Evans were one half of the “Winners Take All” main event against Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins. If nothing else, this proved the hypocrisy of many fans; “we want new people to be pushed” actually means “we want the people we like to be pushed.” I don’t mind Corbin (and think he’s much better than many give him credit for) and one of the low-key highlights of 2019 so far has been Evans’ dedication to keeping her character alive at all time. I know kayfabe is dead, and I know it can never return in that sense, but I appreciate ANYONE who makes the effort. The match itself wasn’t great, but was perfectly serviceable beyond the obvious logical flaw in the booking; if this really was an “Extreme Rules” match there was no reasoning behind the whole “it’s only men vs men, women vs women” aspect that commentary constantly reminded us about.
The main event was, though, only a prelude to the real ending, as Brock Lesnar cashed in his MITB Contract and lifted the Universal Title. Some said this ruined the entire show for them and did the usual “I’m not watching Raw again whilst he’s champion because he never defends the title” nonsense. Which by the way means you are effectively not watching a show because someone you don’t like won’t actually be on it… Anyway, I liked it and feel that if you really were so against it that it soured your entire evening you should probably watch something else or at the very least are probably not as “smart” in the business sense as you think you are.
Despite many other title matches on the show, arguably the most “important” match on the card as far as the WWE were concerned was the return (again) of The Undertaker, this time to team with Roman Reigns to take on the dastardly duo of Drew McIntyre and Shane McMahon. Long time readers will know I could happily never see another Shane match as long as I live, but with a motivated Taker (looking to erase the stench of Super Showdown) and Reigns and McIntyre looking the best opposite each other that they have during the interminable feud this was a fun sprint through Taker’s greatest hits. And Shane got pinned. Which should annoy me from a “Shane has beaten a load of people and now gets pinned in a tag” way but it’s Shane. So I don’t care.
The title matches on the undercard were a mixed bag. I had high hopes for the WWE Championship match between Kofi Kingston and Samoa Joe but the problems went long beyond it merely being impossible to invest in it because there was no expectation that Joe even stood a chance of winning. It was decent enough, but just not “World Title match on a PPV” worthy. Similarly, the SmackDown Women’s Title match pitting Bayley against Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross was a disappointment, this time because the weaving storyline between Alexa and Nikki was almost completely ignored/was an irrelevance. Which is fine, if they want to play the longer-term game. But then why have this match stipulation at all?
Luckily other title matches delivered; both sets of Tag Team Title matches were very good with the Raw title match between The Revival and The Usos being a great example of old school tag team wrestling in the modern style and the three-way for the SmackDown titles between Daniel Bryan & Rowan, Xavier Woods & Big E and Heavy Machinery being even better. Both matches were examples of ones where all concerned were given the opportunity to shine and came away looking better. That momentum wasn’t capitalised on, perhaps, is another story for another time. The United States Title match between AJ Styles and Ricochet was also very good, both playing off previous encounters on TV between the pair and setting up continuing storylines as well.
Non-title action was also good on the card. The Last Man Standing match between Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley was very good, if a little over-long, and featured enough nutty stunts to be worth your while. Indeed the only down side to the match was that, in retrospect, it merely served to show how poorly these two have been booked over the past year or so. Match of the night honours were probably just shaded by a fantastic effort between Aleister Black and Cesaro, which was an evenly matched, hard-hitting affair that resisted the temptation to become a standard WWE match and as such stood out from the pack. Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler lasted ten seconds, but for a non-Ziggler fan like myself, that’s hardly a negative. Sorry, Dolph.
So that was Extreme Rules 2019 and it was a very good show. If you know the “parameters” of the WWE and what they are willing to offer/serve up to fans this was a very good show. Packed full of action and storyline advancement it was generally an entertaining show and even the lesser moments didn’t outstay their welcome.
The extras include both kick-off matches, the Intercontinental Title match between Finn Balor and Shinsuke Nakamura and the Cruiserweight Title match between Drew Gulak and Tony Nese. Both are worth a watch, without being essential viewing. We also get an Undertaker segment from Raw and a Kofi Kingston/Samoa Joe confrontation from SmackDown.
Format Reviewed: DVD
Photographs courtesy of Fetch and WWE
Thank you to our partners, WWEDVD.co.uk and Fetch for providing our review copy of Extreme Rules which is out Monday 26 August on DVD. You can buy your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk by clicking here.
You can find me on Twitter @IWFICON