The Horror Show at Extreme Rules PPV
WWE Performance Center, Orlando, Florida
WWE’s annual throwback to the now defunct ECW promotion, Extreme Rules, takes a fresh twist on Sunday night. With the PPV title bewilderingly prefaced with ‘The Horror Show At’, the WWE Universe could be forgiven for wondering if the lockdown blur of days has slingshot us straight to Halloween. With very little explanation for said tag line, our King Of The Ring Andy Spoors guides us from behind the sofa and into the action…
Never one to make life easy for themselves, WWE presents The Horror Show just a month on from a similarly baffling tag line of ‘The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever’ that accompanied June’s Backlash PPV. Critics have expressed their disdain for the added line, accusing the company of poor taste in the face of a spate of recent positive Covid-19 cases.
In the ring, ratings have continued to slump to record lows for Monday Night Raw – possibly a result of waning interest in the current sans WWE Universe world. The developmental talent that has gamely stood in at the Performance Center to create some sort of atmosphere have, to their credit, added something. It may not be the usual reactions of a sold-out arena, but like the Premier League is currently experiencing, something is needed.
If there was ever any question of exactly what the fans bring to the table, the pandemic has emphatically answered it. The WWE Universe, put simply, are the heart and soul of wrestling and the entire industry is hurting in their absence.
Focussing on Extreme Rules and a solid, if not spectacular, card has been crafted, with no less than five championship matches. More intriguingly a raft of gimmick matches should make for an entertaining night of action.
Celebrating more than 100 days as WWE Universal Champion, Braun Strowman has promised to take his mentor Bray Wyatt back to where it all began for the pair, in a Wyatt Swamp Fight. With the latter returning (albeit temporarily) to his excellent deep south, cult-leader persona, this rivalry is building to something big in the near future. With Wyatt going back to his roots here, combined with the Mr Rodgers style character and, of course, the fearsome Fiend personality, he may have cultivated the closest comparison to Mick Foley so far.
Having said it in the past, we will repeat it again here. Wyatt has been one of the biggest winners of the current and bizarre world we find ourselves in. With the use of cinematic matches now a monthly occurrence, Wyatt seems bound only by his imagination when crafting a match. A Swamp Match sounds like the WWE Universe could be in for something akin to WrestleMania’s Boneyard Match.
If a wrestling match in a swamp isn’t out there enough, a gruesome sounding Eye For An Eye Match sees Rey Mysterio and Seth Rollins attempt to extract their opponent’s eye first. Yes. You read that correctly. Expect some sort of Hollywood effect to play a big part here and possibly an end to Rey Mysterio in WWE as the one of the greatest to grace the ring has reportedly seen his contract run out.
Asuka defends her Raw Women’s Championship against a resurgent Sasha Banks in what should be a tremendous match. Both women are fully capable of putting on a bout worthy of the Women’s Revolution, that celebrated its fifth anniversary this week. With all roads seemingly leading to a Bayley vs Banks blowout, the results of both their matches could prove a huge step towards making that match a reality at the upcoming Summerslam PPV.
Drew McIntyre faces former friend Dolph Ziggler for his WWE Championship, in a mystery stipulation match to be decided by the challenger. McIntyre has come on leaps and bounds in the ring since capturing the title at WrestleMania but could do with an injection of drama to adhere him further to the WWE Universe. Not quite a monster champion like Brock Lesnar or as charismatic as John Cena, it will be interesting to see how McIntyre fares when crowds are allowed to return to arenas.
Full card and predictions:
Braun Strowman vs. Bray Wyatt – Wyatt Swamp Fight
Drew McIntyre vs. Dolph Ziggler – WWE Championship Match
Asuka vs. Sasha Banks – Raw Women’s Championship Match
Bayley vs. Nikki Cross – SmackDown Women’s Championship Match
Rey Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins – Eye for an Eye Match
Apollo Crews vs. MVP – U.S. Title Match
New Day vs Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura – Smackdown Tag Team Championship Tables Match
Andy: New Day