Extreme Rules 2022

Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia

“The one night of the year when WWE goes extreme…” In recent years this tag line hasn’t exactly been accurate. But with the company now under new management and heading in a different and more streamlined creative direction, every match on this year’s card contained some sort of gimmick.
A delicate balancing act for not only those in attendance and the millions watching around the world, too many matches with stipulations can descend into something of a mess. Too few of these matches at an event titled ‘Extreme Rules’ and you end up with last year’s effort and a malalignment for not living up to the Premium Live Event’s (PLE) moniker.
So, were WWE able to tap into the energy of ECW’s spiritual home? How many stipulations are too many stipulations? And just who was behind the mysterious and viral White Rabbit promos segments that have taken over wrestling social media in recent weeks?
As always, Andy Spoors is here to talk us through the major talking points of one of the more memorable PLE in recent WWE history…

Who Killed The World?

Let’s not beat around the bush as there really is no other place we can start. As Extreme Rules closed out, fans began to wonder whether the recent ‘White Rabbit’ viral campaign would simply continue to roll on. Odd happenings occurred throughout the night but as Matt Riddle stood triumphant in front of the Titan-Tron the WWE’s copyright watermark appeared. Usually reserved as a signal their programming is going off air, the Wells Fargo Center instead was instantly plunged into darkness.

Cue bedlam. Bray Wyatt’s distinctive voice began to sing ‘He’s Got The Whole World’ as the Philly crowd found their voice and then some. With each line, a real life version of The FireFly Funhouse creepily appeared around the arena.

As Huskus The Pig Boy, Mercy The Buzzard, Abby The Witch, Ramblin’ Rabbit and The Fiend made their reintroduction, a mysterious closed door appeared before the camera cut to a decrepit version of the Funhouse filled with its usual puppets now covered in dust. A TV flickered on interspersing static, music and a new masked face asking “Who killed the world?”.

As the audience reached fever pitch, the door swung open allowing the masked figure to enter the arena carrying Bray’s trademark lantern. As ‘holy shit!’ chants echoed through the arena, the figure pulled away their mask to reveal the man as none other than Wyatt himself.

It may have become increasingly obvious that the recent promo campaign was Wyatt all along, but the production and execution of the reveal was one of the best in WWE history. The anticipation had grown all night, so to wait until all hope seemed lost and in true Triple H fashion, was truly a masterstroke.

Like him or loathe him, Wyatt brings a creative presence rarely seen in the wrestling industry. Blurring the lines of horror, thriller and wrestling is relatively untouched ground but an area that fans seem very keen to explore once again. There have been mistakes made in the past when it comes to stifling Wyatt’s creativity that this new version of WWE must learn from.

Left to his own devices, Wyatt is a storyline and merchandise selling machine. How that translates to in-ring competition and enhancing other Superstars at the same time as his own character is the burning topic moving forward. For now, fans will be glad that the company has let him in…    

Sheamus Shines Again

After his match against GUNTHER at Clash At The Castle in Cardiff, Sheamus received not only a standing ovation from those in attendance, but rave reviews from critics in the industry. He may not have captured the Intercontinental Championship that night, but there appears to have been a groundswell in support for the Celtic Warrior ever since.

Awkwardly pieced together with Ridge Holland and Butch (fka Pete Dunne), the Brawling Brutes until now had received a somewhat tepid reception. But to borrow a phrase from the man himself, the group have been putting on banger after banger after banger.

Opening Extreme Rules with a six man tag match against Imperium in an ‘Good Old Fashioned Donnybrook’ match, all participants set the bar ridiculously high. A battle from start to finish, Sheamus and co prevailed in a bruising encounter. The night before had seen the Irishman and GUNTHER steal the headlines on SmackDown with a peculiar finish to their rematch.

It doesn’t take a fortune teller to guess that the war of attrition between The Brawling Brutes and Imperium is far from over.  

Judgement Day Arrives

Another stable that initially struggled to find their feet in WWE was The Judgement Day. Originally created by Edge, before being shockingly usurped by Finn Balor, the group have gone from strength to strength.

It’s difficult to tell if Balor, Priest, Ripley and the latest addition Dominic Mysterio are benefitting from the new creative direction the company have been moving in, or if they just needed a little time to gel.

Whatever the reason, The Judgement Day now appear to be comfortably in their stride. The group are currently embroiled in a father vs son conflict with Rey and Dominic Mysterio, a feud with future Hall Of Famer AJ Styles and the ongoing battle with founder Edge and his wife Beth Phoenix.

With so many conflicts ongoing, the group dominate the landscape of Monday Night Raw. One of the major gripes of the company’s weekly flagship show, has long been aimed at the three hour running time. Released Superstars returning to the fray and factions like The Judgement Day and Bloodline at least offer significant options to fill multiple segments of those 180 minutes.

Putting themselves over as the top heels of the company, by attacking Beth Phoenix in front of a helpless Edge, leaves the company in a healthy position with the road to WrestleMania starting only a few short months away.   

What next for Seth Rollins?

After claiming a clean victory at Clash At The Castle over Matt Riddle, it felt a corner had been turned for Seth Rollins. Although the visionary has never been too far away from a major storyline and rivalry, Rollins seemed destined to become the modern day Roddy Piper.

An undisputed talent, majorly over with fans but not the man to be the official face of WWE. The man himself even said words to that effect during a recent interview with BT Sport’s Ariel Helwani. Even when capturing the WWE Championship, Rollins felt second fiddle to Roman Reigns.

Here at Extreme Rules, he lost another big PLE match, this time to Riddle inside the Fight Pit. A new concept for the main roster (NXT has seen a couple of the matches), mainstream media picked up on the match due to the presence of Daniel Cormier acting as special guest referee.

Some brutal back and forths, painful looking set pieces and an eventual loss, it looked inevitable that Rollins would have to lick his wounds and move on to the next rivalry and slip down the card. However, one night on from Extreme Rules, Rollins faced Bobby Lashley for the US Championship and emerged victorious.

It marks the first time in just over 31 months that Rollins has held a championship title when he held the Tag Team Championships with Buddy Murphy. Moving forward it will be interesting to see where the new US Champion goes from here.

Liv Loses Out

After months if not years of fan support online, Liv Morgan finally captured her first SmackDown Women’s Championship earlier this year. The reception she received in the aftermath of her title defence at SummerSlam was, for want of a better term, brutal.

Booed during promos, the 28-year-old quickly developed a thick skin and a steely determination to prove the doubters wrong. The last few weeks arguably showcased some of Morgan’s best work in an attempt to prove to her Extreme Rules opponent, Ronda Rousey, that she can be just as dangerous as the ex-UFC Champion.

In a valiant effort Morgan unfortunately lost out to Rousey. In a slightly bizarre end to the match, Liv was crucially not pinned or tapped out. Instead she passed out in a submission move with a twisted smile spread across her face.

This has been an important run for the young Superstar under difficult circumstances. Cutting her teeth as a champion will stand her in good stead moving into the next phase of her career. Rumours are rife that Morgan will find herself into a potential stable with the returning Bray Wyatt. An intriguing idea that could add further character and depth to a Superstar whose stock is certainly on the rise.