ANOTHER RAW AND SMACKDOWN PPV DOUBLE BILL KICKS OFF WITH RAW’S EXTREME RULES.
The WWE’s annual overload of gimmick matches was based largely around the five-man main event as Bray Wyatt, Finn Balor, Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe and Seth Rollins clashed for the right to become the #1 contender to Brock Lesnar’s Universal Title. It was an action packed show closer that managed to protect everyone involved and yet still provide us with a powerful winner in the form of Samoa Joe. It was quite the effort from all concerned and it had you on the edge of your seat almost throughout.
It was good that it was such a great main event as the undercard, whilst often being entertaining, failed to offer too many stand-out moments.
Neville and Austin Aries had a good submission match over the Cruiserweight Title (and they could hardly complain about the time they were given) but it never quite clicked into top gear like many might have hoped. Again, you cannot deny the effort though. Two title changes (TheMiz defeating Dean Ambrose to lift the Intercontinental Title and Cesaro & Sheamus defeating the Hardy’s to lift the Tag Team Titles) again provided entertainment, and are worth watching a second time around for sure, but both felt like mid-journey stops on their way to the final destination.
Rich Swann and Sasha Banks against Noam Dar and Alicia Fox was ok for what it was, but the real downer of the evening was the Women’s Title match between Alexa Bliss and Bayely. There may have been some mileage in Bayley’s reluctance to make use of the Kendo Stick in the build up to this, erm, Kendo Stick match if the lure of the title on the PPV had led her to overcoming that. Instead she was figuratively cut off at the knees by the booking and match layout. The beauty of NXT Bayley was that she evolved and overcame obstacles and the idea that she was “too nice” to succeed. The Raw version was made to look out of her depth here.
Kalisto against Apollo Crews is the bonus Kickoff match and again, it’s perfectly entertaining without being a match you will need to see more than once.
Smackdown’s Money In Bank show was built around two MITB clashes, though for the first time ever the women got the chance to climb the ladder and grab the briefcase. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, though, you’ll know all about the controversy as eventual winner Carmella was handed the case by James Ellsworth. I’m torn on whether you can treat this as just another wrestling angle (and heel cheating to win a big match is as old as they come) or whether you have to take the view that it was an affront to the “Women’s Revolution” to have the first ever match of this kind end by a man handing a woman the victory. That said, the controversy shouldn’t completely overshadow what was a decent effort from all concerned, even if it did seem a little more disjointed than usual.
The men’s MITB match had no concerns on that score. The concept hasn’t been done to death and still has relevance (which is as much to do with the cash in’s being executed so well over the years) and although if you read the bookies odds beforehand there was a clear favourite there was a general “spoiler-free” sense that any of the participants could snatch it. Was Baron Corbin the right choice? Time will tell, but it was the right winner for me if you’re looking to elevate someone.
Sadly the undercard was distinctly uninteresting on the whole. The Uso’s Tag Title defence against the New Day was shaping up to be very good until the count out finish (and whatever the logical reasons for it, it’s always a downer on a big show for me when it happens) but as ever you can’t blame the wrestlers for that. With everyone else otherwise engaged it was up to Lana to challenge Naomi for the Women’s Title and whilst it was perhaps better than I had ever imagined it could be it still wasn’t very good. I did, at least, like the story they were attempting to tell with Lana (even if it’s been completely forgotten now their feud is over).
The Fashion Police against The Ascension was pure filler, but it was still arguably better than the World Title match between Jinder Mahal and Randy Orton. Well, ok, maybe that’s a little harsh. I’m firmly in the “Jinder isn’t ready” camp. I’ve no great objection to him “getting a go” but do feel that the WWE could have set it up a lot better and with a lot more verve if they really wanted him to succeed on top. The fact is that the match didn’t cut the mustard as a World Title match on a PPV. And when you realised that this feud still wasn’t over the sinking feeling was even greater.
The bonus kickoff match pits the Hype Bros against The Colons. Again, it’s a match that exists and is perfectly watchable without ever being something you need to see again.
This set works better as the double package than it would as single releases. Whilst neither show really shone as a whole there is enough hot action spread over the two events to make this a worthwhile experience.
Photos courtesy: Fetch, Fremantle Media, WWE
Format reviewed: DVD
Thank you to our partners, WWEDVD.co.uk and Fetch for providing our review copy of Extreme Rules / Money In The Bank which is available on DVD in the UK from Monday 14 August. You can buy your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk now by clicking here