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The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: Extreme Rules 2019


To (former) WWE Universal Champion Seth Rollins's credit, it's hard to argue against the talent of WWE superstars. In fact, there's no denying how good they are, and any debate really boils down to a matter of style preference. For the virtual entirety of the show, Extreme Rules was proof that a WWE roster broken free from the restraints of bad TV writing and given the minutes they need to showcase themselves is still among the best in the world.

If there's anything at all you can knock, it's the booking. I say "for the virtual entirety" of Extreme Rules because, well, everyone knows what happens in the end: Brock Lesnar ultimately cashes in, becomes champion, and we all go back to the pre-WrestleMania status quo. All because Lesnar and the UFC didn't work out.

It's pretty damn funny—in an ever-increasingly sad way—that WWE spends four hours establishing their world-class pool of talents and still puts a polarizing part-timer on top. Granted, you could say that it's only one part of the show; so many other facets of the product are fronted by talents that actually are young, skilled, and deserving. But this is the Universal Championship, arguably the biggest prize they're pushing on the whole program. It's the damn flagship, and the flagship's gone back to the old captain.


But what do we expect, anyway, from a company that already knows it can always keep eyes glued to their product? The competition can exist, it can even do well the way it's doing right now, but the monolith is the monolith. 

As fans, you can either take the WWE and watch the good wrestling along with the bad, or really and truly stop watching altogether. Don't let the terrible weekly TV fool you; a PPV like Extreme Rules makes the first option easy.

Extreme Rules 2019 Final Grade: A-

Match of the Night



You'd have to go hardest if you want to stand out on a solid card all around, and I think that's exactly what Cesaro and Aleister Black did. It's so great to see Aleister wrestle again, and Cesaro was the perfect first choice for him as a singles wrestler on the main roster. That said, you can easily pick any match on this show as your favorite and I wouldn't be mad at you.

Other observations

  • All this talk about Finn Balor and Shinsuke Nakamura opening the show on the kickoff and how it's a good way to draw fans in makes me agree with that argument. To the wrestlers, it doesn't really matter when you're on—the kickoff just means you have the crowd at their most energetic and you get to shower early. It was exactly the kind of match it needed to be, and I'm hoping for a renewed and revitalized Nakamura push.
  • What is up with that ASMR intro video?
  • Undertaker looked the best version of himself, and that tag match was a lot better than it had any right to be, but that's why you do this kind of booking. Hide the weakness and underscore the strength. Perfectly overbooked, too.
  • Bayley looked incredible in the win against Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. I'm glad the RAW girls lost against the SmackDown champ, and I hope that's the end of that. (Even if the brand split is dead.)
  • The Last Man Standing match was the first time this whole show I remembered the PPV was Extreme Rules and that the stipulations were actually no-DQ. Good use of both men and a nice way to cap this little hoss feud.
  • I'm not sure how I feel about the New Day taking back the SmackDown Tag Team Championship again, but the match was so good that I can't really be mad. Heavy Machinery did really well for the hoss tag team call-up nobody expected would be successful, and I feel like Bryan and Rowan as tag champs still had a lot of legs. The division is deep (and fresh), though, so let's see what happens.
  • AJ Styles versus Ricochet was a slower match than expected, probably because the crowd was tired after the hot tag match that came before it, and AJ had to play the WWE heel role. I guess the crowd was expecting something more like Ospreay/Ricochet, and I wonder if the agents would actually let Styles wrestle as an asshole high-flier eventually.
  • Good move to have Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler go less than 30 seconds. The show was already getting long by this point, and the post-match pipebomb better served Owens a lot better than another lengthy match.
  • Tired storyline aside, I actually enjoyed the main event. I thought it was the best way to make use of Baron Corbin and Lacey Evans, and they probably should have thought of doing this sooner. (Of course, I understand that they still had to set it up at Stomping Ground.) Like the opening tag match, everything was overbooked properly, especially the sensible finish.
Photo from WWE


*****

Romeo Moran (@roiswar) is the Editor in Chief of Smark Henry and one of the three hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He gets by in this hard knock life through working in publishing. Smark Henry was his and Stan Sy's original vision of a watering hole for local wrestling fans. He roots for the undersized guys who hit hard, but really hates Davey Richards with his entire soul. He likes taking your wrestling questions over on his CuriousCat account.

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