Saturday, July 21, 2018

WWE Extreme Rules 2018

So here's the deal. I skipped out on this PPV recently and only caught a couple snippets that convinced me that this show wasn't worth the effort. And then I wrote this piece on Monday that you can read on there if you want.

Anyway, while doing a clean-up around Wednesday or Thursday, I ended up loading up a replay of the show at the behest of a friend who suggested I give the show a watch; mostly the main event, which he claimed was the best thing he ever saw. And... well, I'm only half-glad I saw the show; in hindsight, I should've stuck with the main even, but regardless, let us begin this journey into the lack of extreme in this Extreme Rules PPV.

The B-Team of Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel defeated Woken Broken Spoken Matt Hardy and Smoken Looken Bray Wyatt in a relative short un-extreme match to win the tag titles in the opening match of this B-Show. I'm not particularly impressed by this development and really, nothing here is getting me in the mood, so... whatever. Good for Bo and Curtis, I guess.

Finn Balor defeated Baron Corbin in a match that felt like a retread of that whole Daniel Bryan Danielson vs. Big Consensual Cass feud from Backlash, where the little guy who's a good wrestler beats the shitty big guy with a roll-up for the win. Also, for some reason, Corbin is bald and in a suit... then I'm reminded that he's the "constable" of RAW. I guess there's something to be said for failing upwards. Also, why is this a regular match on a show called Extreme Rules?

Smackdown's Women Champion Carmella defeated the former Empress Of Tomorrow Asuka in a shitty match to retain the title. And this was the match where I tuned in for five seconds and then immediately tuned out. James Ellsworth was locked in a shark cage in order to prevent interference, but still managed to drop some gimmicks for Carmella to use. He then escapes the cage and somehow gets his foot caught, allowing Asuka to get a few licks in before Carmella smashes her face into the side of the cage and steal the pin. If this was Carmella vs. any other geek woman wrestler, I probably wouldn't have cared... but since it's Asuka, who had an excellent run on NXT and even RAW before getting traded to Smackdown where she's made to look like just another geek... fuck it. This match sucked.

And you want to know the sad thing? Over at RAW, they have Ember Moon. Ember Moon is a former NXT Women's Champion who won the vacant title in a four-way. Who held the title before hand? Asuka. And who was Asuka's last challenger for the title before said vacancy? Ember Moon, who looked like a geek because she couldn't beat the previous champion and thus only won the title because said champion vacated the title. And so Ember Moon is the girl on RAW who couldn't beat the former champion who was just made a fool of by the airheaded champion and her chinless boy toy.

Think about that for a bit.

Shinsuke Nakamura kicked United States champion Jeff Hardy in the balls and then hit him with a kinshasa once the bell rang to score the pinfall and win the title. And then Randy Orton shows up and kicks Hardy in the balls too. At this point, I'm waiting for someone else to show up and kick Hardy in the balls, followed by someone else... and let's just keep this going for five minutes because I need SOMETHING to keep me entertained on this stupid show. On the bright side, this was way the fuck better than the Carmella match.

Kevin Owens defeated Brown Strawman in a steel cage match by climbing the top of the cage and then having Strawman chokeslam onto one of the tables below, thereby making Strawman the world's stupidest hero. Then again, I'm not sure why anyone would root for Strawman. Strawman is the big bully while Kevin Owens is the plucky underdog overcoming his fear of the big bully and even getting a Stunner on him for good measure. By the way, it was nice of WWE to give us a camera angle showing off the wonderful crash pad hidden underneath the table that KO crashed on. It's almost like this shit was planned ahead of time.

Also, if the whole point of this feud was to keep Kevin Owens from running away from Brown Strawman, why would you book a cage match where you could win by pinfall, submission, or ESCAPING THE CAGE?! Why couldn't you book a lumberjack match and surround the ring with geeks? Why not a strap match, with a strap made from genuine Saskatchewan Seal Skin Bindings? Or maybe... just maybe... you'd consider ADDING A FUCKING ROOF TO YOUR STEEL CAGE? Maybe that way, when Jonathan Coachman says that there's nowhere for KO to run, he doesn't sound like a complete fucking idiot saying so like he did here, where there are PLENTY of places for KO to run... fuck me, this show sucks so far.

And because we needed one, we get a recap of the U.S. title match and a tease of a rematch to take place on Smackdown. Spoiler: we got a match on Smackdown and it ended in a DQ. And people thought this was the match we should've had on this PPV... please, people. Don't say stupid things you don't mean...

Smackdown tag champs the Blungeon Brothers defeated Daniel Bryan Danielson and Kane to retain the titles. Kane was incapacitated early on due to a backstage attack, so it's Bryan vs. these two big guys. Everything is in a holding pattern before Kane shows up, manages a couple chokeslams, and then gets curtailed so that Bryan can eat the double powerbomb and get pinned. This was a complete and utter waste of time that was seemingly designed to kill Daniel Bryan Danielson's worth in the company... well, it took them four years, but they made me not care about Daniel Bryan. Un-fucking-believable.

Bobby Lashley defeated Roman Reigns in a pretty hard-hitting match. The crowd, as usual, shat on Roman, although seemingly less "extreme" than the last time I saw a Roman match. For whatever it was worth, it was a solid match between two brutes and it's nice to see Lashley get a big win in his latest WWE stint. Though, I will chuckle when I hear the announcers harp on Lashley winning the ECW title from VINCE MCMAHON as his biggest crowning accomplishment from his first stint... yeah, that was worth remembering. In any event, we have the first genuinely good match on this Extreme Rules PPV event. Sure, this'll mean big things for Bobby, Do We Love Bobby Lashley...

Oh wait... Roman's going to win the rematch this Monday, isn't he?

Never mind.

Raw Women's Champion Alexa Bliss (paired with Mickie James) defeated Nia Jax (paired with Natalya) in a pretty lame "extreme" rules match to retain the title. They show Ronda Rousey in the front row, who later gets involved in the match depending being "suspended" or something... and meanwhile, there's no fucking security to take her away, so that's brilliant. Listen, when Mickie James and Nattie started brawling on the outside, I'm wondering why I'm not watching THAT match instead of the match taking place. And when the highlight of the match is a brawl between the two CORNER WOMEN rather than the two women in the actual match... well, there's something seriously wrong here.

If anything, all this did was make me want to back to that one PPV where Trish Stratus and Victoria had a hardcore match an eternity ago... and it was AWESOME. This match... not so much.

WWE World Champion AJ Styles defeated Rusev (with Aiden English) to retain the title. I'll say this much; I enjoyed this match a little more than I was expecting. Rusev has Rusev Day... and Aiden English... and sometimes Lana... he's a funny guy and when he needs to be a threat, he can be a threat. In this case, however, Rusev was more of an obstacle for Styles to overcome rather than any imposing threat and that dulled my enjoyment somewhat. It was a good match, however, and perhaps the best way to send the crowd home happy.

Except they didnt't.

And in the main event, the WWE Universe defeated the WWE in a 30-minute clusterfuck disguised as an Intercontinental championship title match between the champion Dolph Ziggler and the challenger Seth Rollins. So you have these two talented guys having (allegedly) awesome matches on RAW and people seem to like those matches a lot. So what does WWE do? They book these guys in another match... but this time, it's a THIRTY-MINUTE IRONMAN MATCH.

You know... I normally dislike the crowd in WWE these days. There used to be a time when that sort of crowd mentality was quite refreshing and provided entertainment for a match that wasn't doing its job. And then that became the norm and the crowd started to get annoying. So when I gave this match a bit of a snippet and heard the FIX THE CLOCK chants, I figured "Well, the crowd's being a bunch of assholes."

And well, that still holds true.

Here's the thing and something that dawned on me on the second viewing... it's an Ironman match; a match type that has two competitors wrestling for a set period of time and whoever scores the most falls wins the match at the end. It used to be sixty minutes before it got shortened to 30 minutes, but you want to know the one constant in an Ironman match? It's not one fall to a finish, it's going to run 30 minutes whether we have a fall scored or not, and nothing really matters until the tail end of the match where things might pick up for a bit.

Because of these variables, as a rule, Ironman matches suck and it takes two truly talented competitors to keep the audiences' interest for that period of time and make the match interesting... and even then, it's a tough sell, especially to someone like myself who could never get into Ironman matches or any of its other variations even when they were done very well because, again, it's just going through the motions until the end and that's when you have some semblance of drama involved.

Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler, as talented as they may be, simply weren't up to the task. And because the crowd knows that nothing's going to happen in this match until the last five to ten minutes of a match; because the crowd knows that Ironman matches tend to suck more often than not because it's two guys going through the motions until the very end, the crowd will eventually get bored unless you do something to keep them invested on an emotional level. And these guys simply couldn't get the job done.

Because it's like I've said before; if you give audiences a product worth a damn, then they'll behave themselves just fine because they're actually enjoying the product and not trying to "put themselves over" as some people would call it. But because they haven't been enjoying the product, because they've had to endure a relatively awful show up to this point, because the crowd is just worn out because the show's running longer than common sense would allow, and because we're past the age where we expressed our displeasure at a wrestling show by throwing garbage into the ring... well, they have to get their money's worth somehow, right?

Alternatively, WWE could avoided the sour crowd by... oh, I don't know...

I'm sorry, but when a WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH is playing second fiddle to a 30-minute Ironman match for a SECONDARY CHAMPIONSHIP, how the fuck did you expect people to react, YOU FUCKING MORONS?!

So, less than five minutes in, Seth scores the first fall and then the crowd starts counting down the last ten seconds of every minute "10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1" followed by an imitation of the Royal Rumble buzzer sound. And they're doing this for every minute... and it turned out to be the BEST part of this fucking Ironman match. The crowd counting down in sync with the countdown clock and Seth brilliantly timing a curb stomp for his second pin at precisely 22 minutes remaining was PURE FUCKING GENIUS... and I honestly mean that in a good way, for once.

And Drew McIntyre shows up to assault Seth for one DQ, and then he continues to assault Seth, and then he gets ejected, and then he kicks Seth one more time before leaving. This should have been multiple DQs in a row and Seth should be up twenty falls or something, but because the referee for this match is a fucking idiot, we only get the one... and then WWE wonders why people are more interested in chanting countdowns than the match in the ring.

After a few minutes where Dolph scores a couple falls to tie it all up, WWE removes the clock from the screen and the crowd is PISSED. They're booing, they're chanting "Fix The Clock", and then they decide, "Fuck it. We're going to count down whether there's a fucking clock or not." And they do JUST THAT! It's gotten so bad that when Dolph has Rollins in a sleeper and they cut to a close-up, you can actually hear Ziggler comment that it's worse than when the clock was on. This is fucking hilarious!

And so, with their tails tucked firmly between their legs, WWE relents and puts the countdown clock back on screen... and this draws the BIGGEST reaction of the night. I could call it an Austin-like pop, but that's clearly an exaggeration. Still, nothing else matters. Seth manages one more fall along the way to bring it up to four falls a piece. They're hitting these big moves and everyone is kicking out. And in the final moments of the match, Seth superkicks Dolph and hits him with a Curb Stomp, but is too tired to make the pinfall attempt and time expires. What a shitty finish.

Not to worry, because here comes Raw GM Kurt Angle to restart the match under Sudden Death rules... and then Drew shows up and distracts Seth, allowing Dolph to hit his finish for the win to retain the title.

So after a shitty show with a lot of shitty or boring matches, we have a pretty decent yet lopsided WWE championship title bout and a main event that was destined to be boring due to its needless Ironman stipulation and ended up being the most entertaining match on the whole fucking show due almost ENTIRELY to the one aspect that would normally be seen as a detriment to the product; the completely uncooperative crowd who gave no fucks about an Ironman match and were just going through the motions until they reach a point in the match where they're supposed to start caring.

Now let me clarify in somebody comes along and gets the wrong idea because they're fucking stupid; there is a big difference between having a LONG match and having an Ironman match. A long match is a match that lasts a lengthy stretch of time and ends with someone scoring the win at the end. Unlike Ironman matches which have a set time limit, a LONG match could last until it's concluded with a decisive finish or ref stoppage, whether it's thirty minutes, ninety minutes, or whatever.

While these might run the danger of losing their luster, sometimes you can pull it off and have a really damn good match in the process. John Cena and Shawn Michaels once had a near-hour long match on RAW back in 2007-ish and it was a damn good match despite all the commercial breaks. Even that Gauntlet match earlier this year that lasted a damn near hour and a half was a genuinely fun time because you'd expect a Gauntlet match to have a lot of quick finishes and we ended up getting a string of long mini-matches in between... and it was entertaining.

When you have an Ironman match that lasts 30-60 minutes, for the most part, the two guys in the ring are just going through the motions for the most part. They might score a fall or two along the way, but things really don't pick up until the very end and before all that, it's pretty much cruise control for the talent as well as the audience who's just sitting there waiting for something to happen.

At the end of the day, yes, the crowd chants are every bit a detriment to the enjoyment of a match and it really does shit on the two guys who are trying to put on a good match and aren't getting the reaction they deserve. There are times where I'd have to mute the audio to really enjoy a match for what it is... but when you book an Ironman match in that sort of climate, I can hardly blame the crowd in this case. And if this ultimately kills any chance of an Ironman match in the near-future, then I wholeheartedly APPLAUD THIS DECISION.

So that was Extreme Rules 2018... the show sucked, as usual. But there was a halfway decent Roman/Lashley match, the WWE Championship match was also pretty good, and the 30 Minute WWE vs. The Universe main event was the very epitome of SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT.

And if you want a genuinely good match between Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler... they had one or two on RAW for the past couple weeks that I heard were pretty good, so that might be worth checking out once they hit the Network or something.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Keep it real and keep it clean.